I’ve heard tales of La Llorona for years. When I was a kid, we called her “The Panther Lady” and she walked the banks of a local river at night screaming for her children who were taken by the great flood of 1922. Years later, I learned that this local legend that used to scare the heebeejeebees out of me was actually a Mexican legend and, now, we have a movie that will honor this rich Mexican folklore by casting a bunch of white leads and setting it in America… because Hollywood!
It’s a shame too, because setting this story in Mexico with Mexican leads dealing with a Mexican legend could have given this film a sense of uniqueness and really set it apart from the rest of the Conjuring Universe which it is apparently a part of. Say what you will about The Nun, but it at least felt different from the other films in the Conjurverse.
The Curse of La Llorona feels stale and cheap as a result of its Americanization. Setting it in Los Angeles with yet another non-descript family makes this film look and feel like dozens that came before it.
While I think that Linda Cardellini and Raymond Cruz did a fine job acting with the material they were given and I am not slighting them in the least bit, there are moments in this film that you can practically taste and smell the burning rubber smell of the character’s IQs dropping for the sake of what seems like endless jump scares. Despite being told multiple times that a vengeful spirit is tying to take her children, the mother continually leaves them alone where, of course, La Llorona shows up to say “BOO!” Despite being told not to break a barrier of seeds to keep La Llorona at bay, a character risks doing just that to retrieve something so stupid and unnecessary that it rivals and perhaps even surpasses that infamous scene in Dreamcatcher where Jason Lee dies because he has to have a toothpick.
I understand that, at times, it’s necessary for characters to be a little daft for movies to progress, especially horror movies, but there’s a difference between being daft and being as dumb as a box of dog crap.
If this isn’t enough, this movie suffers from insufferable cheapness and a boogeyman… sorry, boogeywoman who looks straight out of a Hammer horror movie of the 1970’s. There’s very little mystery to her, we see her several times in bright daylight with absolutely no buildup. I dare say that La Llorona’s veiled appearances are far more frightening than her open appearances that look about as scary as amateur cosplay.
The movie also has a laughable ending that feels, and I am not remotely kidding, like the movie just gives up figuring out how to resolve itself. The result is a boss battle that is both brief and baffling, a moment that after almost an entire 3rd act of preparation for spiritual warfare, a character literally discovers by desperation and dumb luck.
The Curse of La Llorona is a frustratingly formulaic movie that looks like so many others and suffers from looking as cheap as I’m sure the budget actually was. It’s chock full of endless jump scares, dumb characters, and cliches with absolutely nothing to set it apart and make it special. It’s just not good. If I had to say anything positive about this film, it’s that at least it’s not the worse Conjuringverse movie… that dishonor still belongs to the first Annabelle movie.