While it is another entry in The Conjuring Universe, albeit one with tenuous links rather than blatant links, The Curse of La Llorona had the chance to really try and be something different. As it isn’t linked to the main Conjuring series, it should have been an opportunity to try out some new ideas. To take the ‘ghostly goings-on’ repetitive concept in a different direction.
Sadly, The Curse of La Llorona does nothing new and aside from the Latin American folklore villain, could be mistaken for any haunting horror ever. If that wasn’t bad enough though, it has some of the most baffling writing choices seen in the series so far. Stuff that will have you questioning character choices and throwing your hands up in despair at yet another dumb development.
The movie stumbles and trips its way from one lengthy ‘scare’ sequence to the next while offering up the most minimal of story and character expansion. It’s a bad movie, a bad entry in the Conjuring Universe but is saved from being one of the worst by some solid acting and one quality jump scare.
Based around the Latin American myth of La Llorona aka The Weeping Woman. She is said to be a tormented spirit who mourns the loss of her two children. Two children that she drowned in a lake during a fit of jealous rage. Now she haunts those who hear her weeping, the goal being to steal children and drown them too.
We see the events that transformed a happy mother into La Llorona at the start and while it’s done in a super-bitesize way, it’s a dark opening.
300 years after that event, in 1973 LA, Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) is called to the house of woman and her children as part of a welfare check. She is the families’ caseworker so has a prior relationship with the mother, Patricia (Patricia Velásquez). However, when she arrives at the house, she finds the walls covered in strange symbols, the mother frightened and her two boys locked in a closet.
Anna releases them even though they beg to stay inside as ‘she’ will get them if they come out. However, Patricia attacks her and is arrested making it look like she has gone crazy. The boys end up in care and that night are led out of their room to their deaths by La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez).
Patricia blames Anna for their deaths, who for reasons that baffle, took her own kids to the crime scene. While there, her son Chris (Roman Christou) hears crying and is marked by La Llorona. Anna and her family are the new targets for the weeping ghost. Can the church help? Father Perez (Tony Amendola) wants to as he has had previous experience with the supernatural, a certain doll that has had a trilogy of films. However, the church will be slow so he sends Anna to the former priest, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) who has more unorthodox ideas. Can you help Anna and her kids ward of the evil that is La Llorona?
Think of every fright you’ve seen in the Conjuring Universe to date and you will have almost every scare attempt this film has in its pocket. To call it lazy is being kind, it’s tiresome and incredibly predictable. There’s no subtly here, the ghost of La Llorona is shown in all her glory almost straight away and later, she loves nothing more then to run and scream at characters. The thing is, that’s all par for the course in this sort of movie so the complaint isn’t as strong when compared to the film’s other issues.
The biggest one being the story which is surprisingly bare and with about as much depth as a puddle of tears. Angles like the idea of Anna being investigated for the injures her children sustain at the hands of La Llorona are dropped after literally one pointless scene. Anna’s husband was a cop who was killed and it’s implied early on that she might be struggling since his death. However, again it means nothing in the overall story aside from being an excuse for his former colleague to give her a file on Patricia. Anna is happy to leave her kids alone at home in most scenes but decides to take them with her when called to go see the dead bodies of Patricia’s children. It’s as absurd as it sounds but nothing will top the ‘doll’ scene as the dumbest moment of the movie.
The group do battle with La Llorona and manage to trap her outside the house by using seeds from the trees that saw her murdering her kids. She can’t cross over the seeds so they are safe inside right now. So, what does Anna’s daughter, Sam (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) decide to do? Reach over to get her doll which is outside, thus brushing the seeds away by accident. A doll that she had cuddled in a few scenes earlier and that was it. It’s not like she’s really young either and that she would risk letting La Llorona back in to get the doll is infuriating.
Or how about Anna and Rafael locking Sam and Chris in a closet for their own safety then going into a completely different room? Can you guess what happens?
The writing is so bad and overshadows any of the good stuff the movie does. A shame because it’s shot nicely enough with some good lighting, particularly in the early scenes with Patricia’s kids. The acting is solid overall even if the characters are pretty unmemorable and the villain is interesting. It also has a damn effective jump scare involving the front door which got a nod of approval.
With this and the pretty poor Annabelle Comes Home, it’s been a rough couple of years for The Conjuring Universe. Let’s hope it gets back on track with the next film to come from the series. While not as bad as the worst we’ve seen (2014’s Annabelle) it’s not far off it.
The Curse of La Llorona
The Final Score - 3/10