Entertainment » Movies

The Curse Of La Llorona

by Padraic Maroney
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jul 16, 2019
'The Curse Of La Llorona'
'The Curse Of La Llorona'  

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What is the saturation point for things that go bump in the night? For decades, horror movies have terrified audiences with the malevolent forces looking to wreak havoc. The current horror craze is haunted houses and ghost stories, being led by the one-two punch of the "Insidious" films and "The Conjuring" universe — because we are obviously now at a point where even horror movies need their own cinematic universe.

The latest entry in "The Conjuring" franchise is spin-off movie "The Curse of La Llorona," and it might just be the film that sounds the death knell for the current crop of ghost stories.

The story of La Llorona, which means "the weeping woman" in Spanish, has many variations. A general idea behind the urban legend is that of a poor woman who marries a wealthy man and drowns her two children in a fit of rage to get back at him for cheating on her. Wracked with guilt over what she did, and trapped between the living and dead, she kidnaps and drowns children to offer them up as a replacement for her own children.

Set in the 1970s, "The Curse of La Llorona" follows Anna (Linda Cardellini), a widowed social worker. While doing a routine wellness check on a pair of brothers, she finds them locked in a closet because their hysterical mother claims she is trying to protect them. When the boys' bodies are found in a river, Anna, a mother herself, is summoned to the scene in the middle of the night. Despite leaving her children at home alone while she works for hours at a time, she inexplicably drags her kids out of bed to come to the scene with her. Her curious son gets out of the car (disobeying her strict command) to check out what is happening, and in doing so he starts another round of the curse.

Why she brings her children out in the middle of the night is just the first of many things that never quite make sense during the course of the film's blessedly short running time. Screenwriters Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis aren't concerned with making things believable or worrying about how long non-Olympic athletes can actually hold their breath underwater. At times, it feels like the two might have just written scenes separately that they thought were going to be scary and then patched them together like an Amish quilt, hoping that a film would magically take shape.

You know you are in for a treat when the filmmakers choose the worst entry in the series as the connecting thread between "La Llorona" and the other films. "La Llorona" welcomes back Father Perez (with Tony Amendola reprising the role), who appeared in the original "Annabelle" spin-off film. It would be a subtle integration if they didn't include a flashback of the priest carrying the possessed doll; but then again, if you want subtly, this is the wrong movie for you!

To a point, you have to feel sorry for Cardellini. After decades of toiling away in mostly supporting roles, she deserves better than this thankless role. The ghost is focused on her character's children, so she is relegated to mostly reacting to what is happening to them — and sort of believing them. Her crowning moment comes midway when La Llorona suddenly appears in her bedroom and Anna's response is to aimlessly swing a baseball bat and then, naturally, try to reason with the specter. As Velma in the live-action "Scooby-Doo" films, Cardellini was much more effective at dealing with ghosts.

The problem with continuing to make a universe based around "The Conjuring" films is that after a handful of entries, the films feel paint-by-numbers. Even worse, because of the formula, both "La Llorona" the movie and La Llorona the ghost are void of scares. There is one scene, mostly given away in the trailers, that offers some suspense - the one in which the scorned ghost attempts to break into the family station wagon. But, really, when you are a ghost who can mysteriously roll down windows, should you let something silly like a locked car door stop you from breaking in?

The real horror here would be forcing someone to sit through "La Llorona" for multiple viewings.

The Curse of La Llorona

In 1970s Los Angeles, the legendary ghost La Llorona is stalking the night -- and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother, a social worker and her own kids are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope of surviving La Llorona's deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.

Info

Runtime :: 93 mins
Release Date :: Apr 19, 2019
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

Cast

Anna Tate-Garcia :: Linda Cardellini
Chris :: Roman Christou
Samantha :: Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen
Rafael Olvera :: Raymond Cruz
La Llorona :: Marisol Ramirez
Patricia Alvarez :: Patricia Velasquez
Detective Cooper :: Sean Thomas
Father Perez :: Tony Amendola
Donna :: Irene Keng
Carlos :: Oliver Alexander
Tomas :: Aiden Lewandowski
Officer Claro :: Paul Rodriguez
Mr. Hankins :: John Marshall Jones
Perez :: Ricardo Mamood-Vega
Diego :: Jaydan Valdivia
ER Doctor :: Andrew Lee

Crew

Director :: Michael Chaves
Screenwriter :: Mikki Daughtry
Screenwriter :: Tobias Iaconis
Producer :: James Wan
Producer :: Gary Dauberman
Producer :: Emile Gladstone
Executive Producer :: Richard Brener
Executive Producer :: Dave Neustadter
Executive Producer :: Walter Hamada
Executive Producer :: Michelle Morrissey
Executive Producer :: Michael Clear
Cinematographer :: Michael Burgess
Film Editor :: Peter Gvozdas
Original Music :: Joseph Bishara
Production Design :: Melanie Jones
Costume Designer :: Megan Spatz


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