Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola
Written by: Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
Running Time: 93 mins
Release date: 3rd May 2019
While everyone has been raving about the superhero franchises, another film series delivers a new edition to its world. The Conjuring series has been growing year by year, from the original stories to the tales of Annabelle, the demonic doll to last year’s dire The Nun. Now we have The Curse of La Llorona, a film that has the most tentative connection with the rest of the movies but has all the elements of the others: dimly lit scenes as a family are haunted by a white-faced spirit with jump scares. Like the other films, it isn’t scary.
Anna Tate-Garcia is a widowed child protection officer who has one client who has locked her two children in a closet. Ignoring her warnings, the boys are released, and soon after, they are found dead. A supernatural curse had haunted the family and has now moved onto Anna’s own children. They soon find themselves having to fight off a spirit who wants to drown Anna’s offspring.
The initial idea sounds reasonably decent. A woman from Mexico in the 1600s drowns her two boys after discovering her husband has been having an affair and in a jealous rage, decided to take away what he held precious, only for her to be riddled with guilt and haunts those with two children, hoping to replace her dead boys. Move forward to 1974 and troubled social worker, Anna, grieving for her dead policeman husband and struggling to keep job and family life balanced, now has a spirit to contend with.
Sadly, the premise is delivered with very little imagination and you spend the time ticking off the apparent jump scares that director Michael Chaves throws at you. We have been here time and time again. In this time when directors like Jordan Peele are pushing the boundaries of horror with intelligent, smartly executed movies, watching this just seems lazy. It lacks any tension and the pacing just drags. Even for a film that’s only over 90 minutes, it drags.
The design of the spirit is lazy too. Someone thought that The Nun, who looked like Marilyn Manson, was scary so they decided to go for a similar look but dress her up in a dirty wedding dress. Then at every opportunity have her appear with so much noise to announce her arrival, in the hope that the audience will be frightened. Not a chance. Nothing about this film is remotely scary. In fact, a scene in which a child is watching Scooby-Doo (a little nod to the star) would probably be more terrifying.
The cast does a valiant job to make the whole film atmospheric, but it’s your stock collection of children screaming and adults looking scared. Linda Cardellini, who played Valma in the Scooby-Doo movies (see the connection?) is fine but deserves something better than this.
Overall, The Curse of La Llorona is just as weak as The Nun. If these films shook things up with a different approach, it might be worth a visit, but if you have seen the other films, you are going to get anything close to something unique. As for the connection with the rest of the series, a priest who appeared in one of the Annabelle films. Even that is incredibly dull.