It’s easy when you sit in a place of privilege to look at horror as simply being the unknown and unexplained. Whether that’s vampires, spectres and other spooks of the night or something not quite of this Earth. All too often, the things that cause the most terror in us are much closer to home. In many countries those ghosts are the victims or oppression, repression and murderous tyranny. Jayro Bustamante’s new film La Llorona plays on these themes.

Thirty years after he ordered the deaths of an indigenous woman and her children, a retired general (Julio Diaz) is brought to trial for his crimes. Now in ailing health, he is acquitted after a mistrial. This injustice unleashes the spirit of La Llorona, who begins to torment him at night. His wife (Margarita Kenéfic) and daughter (Sabrina De La Hoz) attribute these bouts to dementia but could the new housekeeper (María Mercedes Coroy) be the source of his anguish?

The horrors of the Guatemalan civil war are brought to life through the incarnation of the ‘weeping woman’. La Llorona tackles these murders using the power of metaphor and a steady and slow build-up of psychological terror. It’s beautifully shot and features some striking performances from the impressive cast. In a country where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed or simply ‘disappeared’, La Llorona holds their memories in its hands.

La Llorona premieres on Shudder, Shudder Canada and Shudder UK on 6 August.