It finally arrived in the Mail, so naturally yours truly had to
hunker down on the couch last evening and watch it…..as if there was
any doubt!! Here, then, is my review of “The Wailer”…aka “La Llorona”.
Well, it starts off pretty much as one might expect…..6 young people, 3 guys and 3 girls roaming about the Mexican countryside…..but not until after a lil’ flashback where a sexy…but somewhat insane… Mexican beauty murders her two sweet children by drowning…..all in the mistaken idea that it would somehow please her lover into accepting her advances. He’s less than receptive to the whole notion….and cutting him with a big knife doesn’t score her any points either…..so of course things end badly with her getting killed and disposed of in a suitably mysterious fashion to cover up the whole horrible crime….
Flash forward to our group of protagonists as they search for accommodations in a typical sleepy Mexican Village at Festival
Time. No open hotels…..no sleeping at the youth hostel…..no
rooms at the Inn for them. Only good ol’ Juan, the Taxi driver and his
idea of renting the haunted hacienda where the terrible tragedy took
place all those years ago. See where we’re heading with this?
Yep…..this one doesn’t exactly break any new ground as it recycles the old “Horny partying Teens /college students/ random young people go the the Haunted House….get wasted….have sex….. and get killed one by one” plotline of sooooo many other films to come before it. Even a quick game of strip poker makes an appearance to get that quick bit of nudity into the mix……..
Does that make “The Wailer” a bad example of the genre? Not at all……although it does take about an hour (53 minutes actually) to get past all the partying and mindless drivel associated with this sort of thing and get down to the scares……but once it does, watch out……..this wailing ghost takes no prisoners. When she finally gets let loose to do her thing, the body count climbs quickly. Much of the budget for this film looks
to have gone to the makeup department and was well worth the investment. You’ll see faces torn off…… throats ripped out…. plenty of claw wounds and other nasty bits all on display.
I just wish she’d have gotten a chance to do her thing a little earlier in the film…..maybe wipe out some nosy locals…or the good old idea of having some idiots follow the group to the cabin with robbery in mind only to get their just desserts at the hands of our vengeful spirit. But nope…….. you have to wait….. and wait…… and wait for her to finally get set loose and then it all finishes up in the final 25 minutes or so of the film. A missed opportunity if you ask this lil’ Catgirl……
Furthermore…. the usual “explanation” of what’s ultimately happening is missing as well…..a cryptic book with the ghost’s picture is found…. but NOBODY READS IT!! Can you believe it? Not only that…. but none of our victims has any ideas on how to deal with her once the carnage ensues….. no religious notions…. no guns…. not even the phone number of the Mexican Army to fall back on. Their reactions are probably realistic, but very unsatisfying. And the whole idea of her crying for her children…….. Why does she do that? I can’t see any reason…..it certainly doesn’t seem to matter at all to her or anybody else. I expected the ghosts of the kids to make an appearance or something to sort of resolve things…… but nope…. nada…. no way, José. Just lots of unanswered questions and missed opportunities. Remember….if you are going to do a low budget horror movie, there are certain expected conventions that absolutely must be followed at least in the name of satisfying your target audience. Back-story, people….it’s all in the back-story, never forget that you aspiring filmmakers!!!
La Llorona herself is well done….you catch only glimpses of her as she stalks her victims…. a claw here….. a twisted foot lurking there….. or a menacing shadow just out of focus. At leastuntil the final climax….. then all is revealed, and let me tell you. Death was NOT kind to our murderous beauty as the years passed. Not at all. Another thumbs up for those unsung heroes on the Makeup team.
There is of course the requisite “Twist” ending, but Neko-chan won’t spoil it for ya by revealing it. Let’s just say, nobody has a “Happy Ending” in this one……….
As to the physical elements of the DVD itself:
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Rating: Unrated (mature themes, violence, nudity, sexual situations)
Language: English Audio w Mexican Characters speaking Spanish (Original) / Spanish (Dubbed) / English Partial Subtitles for Mexican Character Dialog (For use with English Audio Track only)
Screen Formats: Enhanced Wide Screen Letterbox for 16×9 TV, NTSC, Region 1
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 with sub-woofer channel
DVD Features: Bilingual Interactive Menus, Scene Selections, Behind the Scenes Cast Interviews, Trailers
Studio: Laguna Films
Director: Andres Navia
Cast: Nicole Danielle “Michelle” (Untold Stories of the ER) – Eltony Williams “Jay” (World of Weird) – Hugo Medina “Mike” – Brenda Lynn Mejia “Ashley” (Jugando al Amor) – Vanessa Rice “Julie” (Pacific Blue / City Guys) – John Patrick Jordan “Andrew” (Days Of Our Lives / Believers Among Us) – Monique Barajas “La Llorona”
The DVD comes packed in an attractive Cardstock slipcase featuring the same artwork as the clamshell itself. There are no inserts or other pieces included. The DVD-9 is properly authored and without any major
problems or flaws that might distract from one’s viewing pleasure. The DVD-9 Layer transition, while noticeable is not severe, falling at about the 1 hour mark in the film between chapters.
The Video quality is acceptable, although the audio track was problematic and dialog was difficult to hear at times requiring audio levels on my TV to be set extremely high to allow me to hear them….while getting my ears blasted by the music and sound effects every now and again. I would have preferred an option for a simple two channel stereo track….remember, not everybody has 5 channel speaker systems for their TV……
All in all, not it’s not a bad movie…….just not a great one. La Llorona could take a few lessons from the many Asian “Long Haired Ghosts”….now some of those ladies really know how to scare the daylights outta their victims!!
So, in conclusion, Neko-chan gives it overall, 3 “Meows” out of 5…….and no extra purrs of contentment. Better luck next time o’ “Crying Woman”……