By Mark Saldana

Rating 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Ecuador, comes this riveting and disturbingly visceral thriller that offers an insightful glimpse into the lives of sex workers and the victims of human trafficking in Latin America. Nöelle Schönwald stars as “Dana,” a seemingly high class escort/prostitute working for ruthless pimp, human trafficker, and drug dealer Julian (Cristian Mercado). Dana has been selling her body for some time now, with the goal of making enough money to return home to her estranged daughter. The trouble is Dana is heavily indebted to Julian, as she relies on him to support an expensive drug habit. Finding herself in a viscious, never-ending cycle, Dana desperately attempts to free herself from Julian by any means necessary.

Written and directed by Gabriela Calvache, La Mala Noche is a tremendously heartbreaking tale that is inspired by the real stories of several women who have been tangled within the webs of human trafficking, prostitution, and drug abuse. Calvache has made an incredible film that delivers incredible tension, unsettling violence and abhorrent treatment of women. Nöelle Schönwald, Cristian Mercado, and Diego Mignone all deliver extraordinary performances. It is a film that is difficult to watch at times, but is nevertheless an important testament to an alarming problem that has developed largely in Latin America.

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