The Curse of La Llorona, 2019.
Directed by Michael Chaves.
Starring Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez, Patricia Velasquez, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Tony Amendola.
When a social worker (Linda Cardellini) visits the home of a troubled mother suspected of child neglect, she puts her own family at risk by becoming embroiled in a centuries old curse that attaches itself to her children.
In the grand scale of The Conjuring Universe, Michael Chaves’ The Curse of La Llorona is a much smaller tale as a widowed mother of two has to defend her children from La Llorona, an evil spirit that stalks and kills children. Though the smaller scale works for the most part, The Curse of La Llorona relies too much on cheap and predictable scares to move along its story while the characters aren’t entirely compelling enough to follow. The blu-ray comes with a decent amount of special features, though none are as long or as in-depth as they could have been into the making of the film.
One aspect of La Llorona that stands out is Chaves’ direction. There are some neat tricks Chaves employs throughout the film, such as some one-take tracking shots or cool techniques to generate some of the film’s early scares. The camera was a habit of sticking pretty close to the characters during the scares or chase scenes, allowing audiences to feel like they’re really in it with the characters. La Llorona‘s visuals and cinematography are strong even if the story and characters are not.
Of the cast, Linda Cardellini is the strongest as family matriarch and family social worker Anna. She gives some fairly good terrified reactions to La Llorona’s appearances and the various attempts to harm her children. Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen do admirable jobs with their roles, though there isn’t much for them to do beyond screaming and acting scared. While Raymond Cruz brings a fair bit of fun charisma to his role, he’s severely underused as he only plays a significant role in the third act. Marisol Ramirez does give off some creepy vibes as the film’s title spook through her body language, mannerisms and expressions. The make-up done on La Llorona, from her bright eyes to her constantly wet face, does a good job of making her seem like a supernatural creature.
Unfortunately, though, the story just quite isn’t up to par with other positive aspects of the film. It’s not as compelling as it could be as it takes a little while for the story to get going and drops a couple threads that could have given both the story and characters more to work with. The most notable of these dangling threads is the brief investigation of child abuse from Anna after she can’t fully explain the injuries her kids received from La Lorono. It’s made out to be a big issue but nothing ever comes from it. The other issue is how La Llorona opts to deliver mostly cheap jump scares to lure the audience in, but aside from a handful of moments the scares are easy to spot coming and are predictable in how exactly the jump scare would unfold.
The blu-ray contains nearly an hour of extra footage, including:
The Myth of La Llorona (2:30 min) – A short feature that looks at the actual legend of La Llorona. Specifically, it talks about the story’s legacy in Mexican folklore and what it means to the cast. It’s cool, but everything could have been examined further, perhaps with more of the actual history of the myth or potential cases where people say they saw or felt La Llorona in their childhood.
Behind The Curse (10 min) – A look behind the scenes at how the film was put together. Some of the cast talk about how they felt it was respectful to the La Llorona legend and Mexican culture, even going so far as to consult with a lot of priests on how to conduct the rituals while Michael Chaves and Conjuring creator/producer/director James Wan show a ton of enthusiasm for this project. It also talks about how it ties into the larger Conjuring Universe through the return of Tony Amendola’s Father Perez from Annabelle.
Deleted Scenes (11 min) – A collection of deleted and extended scenes, including a slightly alternate ending.
Storyboards (18 min) – Plays storyboards from the pre-production against the actual scenes from the film.
The Making of a Movie Monster (6 min) – A look at how Marisol Ramirez was transformed into La Llorona. The application of the make up took 3 hours to complete whole the make-up and costume designers spoke of their desire to create a throwback to the monster films of the 60s.
While The Curse of La Llorona boasts some neat technical aspects it’s not quite enough for anyone but diehard Conjuring fans to see. The story falls a little flat due to its reliance on predictable jump scares and most of the cast are not given a whole lot to do other than scream and look frightened. The special features are interesting, but more could have been included regarding the actual legend of La Llorona. Overall, it’s a piece Conjuring and horror fans will be happy to own, but not so much for anyone else.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk