“The Curse of La Llorona” stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, and Marisol Ramirez. Released on April 19, 2019, the film has a widow protecting her children from a ghostly entity.
The film features the directorial debut of Michael Chaves, who is known for creating the web series, “Chase Champion”. It is the sixth installment in the Conjuring Universe. This year, the horror cinematic universe is giving us not one, but two chapters that’ll give audiences nightmares for about a couple of days. This month, we’re starting things off with another supernatural fright-fest that was originally described as an original horror film until the filmmakers decided to have it set in the same universe as “The Conjuring”. So far, the “Conjuring” spin-offs have been a mixed bag when it comes to critical reception. “Annabelle: Creation” proved to be the best of the bunch, but last year’s “The Nun” made us realize that relying on jump scares over storytelling can damage the cinematic universe just a little bit. So now we have another Conjuring-like scare-fest that could wind up like either “Creation” or “The Nun”. Unfortunately, it wound up being the latter. Scratch that, it wound up being something that is lower than the latter.
After doing some small research on the film, I found out that the story is actually inspired by the Mexican folklore of La Llorona, the ghost of the weeping woman who hunts and steals young children. That would explain why they have it set in the Conjuring Universe. This could’ve been something that’ll get the spin-off series back on track, but since the film liked to scare its audience by providing jump scares and showcasing how hideous La Llorona was from time to time, that’s hardly the case. The story had plenty of plot elements that would’ve made the characters as interesting as the legend it’s based on. However, those elements were either poorly-written or bland, forcing itself to use the thing I like to call “The Boo! Factor” to keep the audience in their seats. While the amount of jump scares weren’t as abundant as I thought it would be, they weren’t that scary, either. Mostly because I was trying to avoid getting heart attacks by covering my ears. I mean, do you have any idea how loud jump scares are when you’re in a theater? I do, and let me tell you, having a heart attack constantly is not fun for me. The only good things I could find in the film were the cast and its atmosphere. Despite the characters lacking depth, the actors were honestly decent in their roles, especially Cardellini as Anna and Ramirez as La Llorona. Tony Amendola reprised his role as Father Perez, who was last seen in “Annabelle”. There’s nothing too special about his performance, to be honest. He was just there to let people know that the film is part of the Conjuring Universe. One of the best parts of the Conjuring franchise as a whole is the atmosphere and how it affects the films’ settings as well as the audiences’ phobias of being in dark areas. “The Curse of La Llorona” successfully continued that trend by providing an unnerving sense of dread and spookiness that’ll make people think about leaving the lights on at night. While the scares were far from memorable, I thought Michael Chaves did a pretty impressive job at maintaining the tone that made the main “Conjuring” installments successful in the first place. He is set to direct the third “Conjuring” film, which is coming out next year, so I’m hoping that he can pull that one off as well.
Overall, “The Curse of La Llorona” is very easy to break, and not in a good way. It had the same spooky vibe that I had come to expect from a Conjuring spin-off, but it wasn’t enough to make the film as terrifying as the sobbing spirit herself. With its bland plot, ineffective scares, and uninteresting characters, the film shows that some curses are better left unexplored. If you’re looking for a horror film that focuses on both scares and storytelling, this one may not be for you. Here’s hoping the next “Annabelle” film will turn things around.