“In the end, The Curse of La Llorona feels forgettable.”
The Curse of La Llorona is the latest installment in ‘The Conjuring-Verse‘ which (unfortunately) now means a mediocre jump scare movie that is executive produced by James Wan and shoehorns in references to the Warren family and Annabelle. That isn’t to say the movie is a complete failure by any means. It will certainly delight those who crave jump scares and loud noises to shake them from their seats. Seriously, there are so many jump scares that after about 40 minutes, they stopped affecting me as I became accustomed to them. In the end, the movie is much closer to last fall’s ‘The Nun‘ than any of ‘The Conjuring‘ films, which means it feels forgettable.
“The Curse of La Llorona” follows a Latin American legend about a cursed woman who is searching for children to take the place of her own dead children. The catch is that she drowned her own children in a jealous rage to punish her unfaithful husband. After a quick back story to establish who this ghost/demon/curse is, we jump to the 1970s and meet Anna played by Linda Cardellini who is a widowed Child Protective Services employee with two children of her own. One night she “rescues” two children locked in an apartment with burning candles and places them in a city facility. In the morning, they both turn up dead. The mother of those boys is talking about some threat to her children and blames Anna for their death, and that mother somehow points the curse at Anna in the hopes her own children can be traded.
Anna’s two children begin to be stalked by La Llorona in a series of dark hallways, curtains, shadows, bathtubs, etc. All of these are decently executed jump scares, but as I said earlier, with so many, they start to hit a point of diminishing returns. Eventually, Anna finally accepts her children are being stalked and enlists the help of a former priest named Rafael, played by the guy who plays Tuco in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Rafael is a breath of fresh air and lightens the mood of this movie a bit, but the movie returns to stereotypical genre roots pretty fast as Rafael uses all the tools at his disposal to try and kill La Llorona.
It is always better to not think too hard about supernatural horror movies, but sometimes the script and movie are so all over the place that you can’t hide little frustrations. For example, La Llorona can appear in bathrooms and behind curtains for jump scares, but at one point the windows on a station wagon keep her at bay? I know this is a nitpick, but it highlights the inconsistencies and rules that I personally feel ‘The Conjuring‘ movies did a better job of establishing and sticking to. This movie just wants to use its settings to get to the next jump scare rather than build any intrigue about the actual plot.
If you love horror movies (especially jump scares) then I don’t think you’ll hate The Curse of La Llorona. It definitely knows how to create a creepy atmosphere and stage some decent scares. It isn’t as well put together or plotted as its predecessors and leans in on the hopes of a sequel in the closing 10 minutes but that is to be expected in 2019. The Conjuring-Verse that they want to establish isn’t stopping anytime soon, here’s to hoping the overall quality of these prequels improves going forward.