The Crying Woman

05/11/2023 08:31

Film: The Crying Woman (La Llorona)

Year: 1933

Director: Ramón Peón

Writers: A. Guzman Aguilera, Carlos Noriega Hope and Fernando de Fuentes

Starring: Ramón Pereda, Virginia Zurí and Carlos Orellana



This is a movie that I found when looking for horror films from 1933. I’ll be honest, my first introduction to this lore of the La Llorona aka The Crying Woman was thanks to the Conjuring universe. I saw that movie deal with this entity in the theater and realized that this is a staple of Mexican culture. It is a story that I would like to learn more about and it excited me to check this out.

Synopsis: Llorona is a figure unique to Mexican folklore – the wailing spirit of a woman who lost or killed her child and now returns to seek revenge and haunt the living.

We start this off by seeing a stone image. This will come back into play later. There is then a man walking outside. It is close to midnight and when it strikes, he dies. It is thought to be a heart attack while others believe it is the spirit of La Llorona. Dr. Ricardo de Acuna (Ramón Pereda) doesn’t believe in the supernatural. He trusts there’s a medical reason as to the death of this man.

This is an important day. Ricardo’s son Juanito is turning four. Helping to throw the party is Ricardo’s wife, Ana Maria (Virginia Zurí). Also here is Ana’s father, Don Fernando de Moncada (Paco Martínez). He takes Ricardo aside to tell him the story of the de Acuna family and their curse. We then go into a flashback to learn of what happened.

In the past, Pereda portrays his ancestor who is the captain of the guard, Diego de Acuna. He is in love with a woman by the name of Ana Xiconténcatl (Adriana Lamar). She has the illegitimate child to the local royalty, Marqués del Valle (Alberto Martí). There is an issue here that he cannot recognize her child as it will upset his family. Diego doesn’t like this and calls him out at church where the Marqués is getting married. This creates issues that lead to Ana killing her son.

Ricardo finds the story interesting, but he doesn’t believe that it affects anything. We see there is a hooded figure in the house, trying to kill Juanito. This person is referred to as La Malinche. Ricardo needs to figure out what is going on before it is too late. Whomever this hooded figure is, might not be working on their own freewill. The spirit of La Llorona might be involved.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that this is different than I was expecting. What I appreciate here is that this establishes the lore and a couple possible ways this ghost story/lore started. What I’ve heard is that this woman was upset for being left, which is in line with Ana and her son not being recognized by Marqués del Valle. She then drowned her children. Those that encounter her, hear her crying. Some of that is here. There is a creepy cry that comes from the ghostly apparition. We see and hear it a couple times. I liked that. It made it spooky.

I do need to shift to a negative here, we don’t get a lot of it. This movie decides to ground what we are getting. I don’t mind what the reveal is. What works there is that whoever is behind it is not able to control themselves. It is a bit of a possession film there. What I would have preferred though was more of a ghost story. We can keep in what we get but give me more haunting. I understand that this is a ‘me problem’. I’m projecting what I want as opposed to what we get.

What did work though was the history we get. A variation on the how La Llorona became the figure that she is was good to me. I even like that we then get another aspect of what she came after another of the de Acuna ancestors. What is interesting about what is given is that Ricardo is both correct and wrong. That was a good route to go.

Where I’ll then go would be the acting. I thought that Pereda did a good job in dual roles as Ricardo and his ancestor of Diego. We are in the early cinema days so he doesn’t do a lot, but it still worked. Zurí was good as this protective mother. The same could be said for Lamar, but what she does is crazy. It fits though for the lore. Martí was also solid in his double roles. I didn’t pick up on the fact that he was also Rodrigo de Cortés. It makes more sense now. Other than that, I’d say that Carlos Orellana, Esperanza del Real, Martínez and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.

All that is left then to go into would be with filmmaking. The best part of this is the soundtrack and design. The crying sound for La Llorona is eerie. It is mostly synced up with a song that starts heavy with drums before going to an eerie tune. That was effective for me. The cinematography is solid. It is early cinema again so they don’t do much to stand out. As for the effects, we don’t get a lot and that is again when this came out. I did like the ghostly effect of La Llorona. If there is a gripe, I wanted more of that.

In conclusion, this is a solid film. I don’t know if it is necessarily what I wanted. I acknowledge that it isn’t fair to judge the movie that way. What this does well is establishing the history of the La Llorona lore. I don’t know enough to know how close it is. The acting though is solid. The soundtrack and design are good. No issues with the effects aside from just wanting more. I watched this on YouTube. The subtitles weren’t synced up well so that threw me off. I think if you’re into early cinema or want to learn more about this lore, this is a decent enough watch.


My Rating: 7 out of 10