Monday, April 22

The Curse of La Llorona Review

The Curse of La Llorona

Dir: Michael Chaves

Starring: Linda Cardellini, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, and Raymond Cruz

Who remembers bed time stories? Tales about knights fighting dragons, magic lamps that provide three wishes, and adventures into magical kingdoms with giant people. Within all these fables are happy endings, romantic moments, but also hints of dangerous creatures, evil witches, and spooky boogeymen. 

For some children, the naughty and disrespectful kind, these bed time stories can serve as a warning, a cautionary tale for young people to make better decisions, to obey their elders, or to abide by the rules. These monsters are created and exist in different shapes and forms familiar to the environment, their legend grows greater with each story told and eventually folklore is born; the Irish banshee, the Native American wendigo, and the Greek sirens are a few legends that have morphed or transformed into new scary stories to tell before bed.

“The Curse of La Llorona” is the newest scary movie to hit movie theaters, produced by the team who brought “The Conjuring” franchise to life and directed by newcomer Michael Chaves; it brings a figure of Mexican folklore to life in the ghost of the Weeping Woman. 

Anna (Linda Cardellini) is a social worker who is investigating possible child endangerment with a family that she has worked with in the past. Anna finds two children locked behind a door while a troubled mother warns her about an evil spirit that is trying to take her children. Anna ignores the warning and is soon brought into a supernatural realm where the spirit known as La Llorona is trying to claim Anna’s two children as her own.

“The Curse of La Llorona” has an interesting design working to its advantage; the image of a weeping woman in a white dress is a strong visual presence that is eerie when moving through dark shadowy corridors or lingering in dark corners. And, in an early scene involving a young boy disobeying his mother’s orders to stay in the car, the weeping woman is played to high effect with a really affecting jump scare. 

It’s unfortunate that this design element doesn’t prevail throughout the film as numerous scenes of the ghostly figure screaming loudly at her victims ruins the entire practical effect. This happens so early, and then so often, that it’s hard to return back to a basic scare element. It also doesn’t help that most of the scares are easily telegraphed, which wouldn’t be a problem if aspects of tension or apprehension were introduced into the concepts. 

Aspects of cultural spirituality and the connection to religious foundations are introduced to provide some substance to the mythology, but the attention would have been better suited for the characters within the story. Unfortunately, Anna’s motivations are so narrow within her composition that it’s difficult to find the emotional connection to her family. That’s a major problem when the entity stalking you is trying to steal your children.   

“The Curse of La Llorona” begins with promise and offers some really intriguing designs on a ghostly apparition. Unfortunately, the emphasis on trying to do so much with the concept of a simplistic scary figure, adding effects that don’t really offer the payoff of much simpler designs, undercuts the combination of fear and fun that this film is trying to induce. 

Monte’s Rating

2.00 out of 5.00

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