Directed by: Michael Chaves
Premise: An entry in The Conjuring series. A widowed social worker (Linda Cardellini) and her family are haunted by an evil spirt that preys upon children.
What Works: The cast of The Curse of La Llorona is generally pretty good and the actors do what they can to bring some credibility to the film. Linda Cardellini plays the single mother of two children and early scenes of her character balancing work and home responsibilities makes the family relatable. Also notable is Patricia Velasquez as a mother who has lost her children to La Llorona. Velasquez is underused and the film would have benefitted from more of her character.
What Doesn’t: The Curse of La Llorona is yet another entry in The Conjuring series, a horror franchise that has a lot of potential and keeps squandering it. The anthology-like nature of The Conjuring series, with spin off titles in addition to the titular installments, ought to allow for a broad range of stories and filmmaking styles. But instead, this series has just made the same movie over and over again; the Annabelle films, The Nun, and now The Curse of La Llorona all have the same visual style, which mostly consists of flat and murky images, and they recycle the same scares and scenarios. The new film continues The Conjuring series’ lazy retread of possession and haunting tropes but The Curse of La Llorona is especially terrible. For one, the movie isn’t at all scary. There is little atmosphere or tension to the movie and even the jump scares are rarely done well. A lot of this movie makes no sense, including parts of the story that aren’t at all related to the supernatural. At one point, the family is visited by a social worker who misinterprets the haunting as a sign of child abuse. The social worker just shows up unannounced and anyone who knows anything about social services will recognize the preposterousness. Early on, the mother claims to be atheistic but at the first sign of the supernatural she seeks out the help of the Catholic Church. That’s one of the most maddening things about The Conjuring series in general and The Curse of La Llorona in particular. It uses cultural and religious iconography but with no regard for what those symbols mean. The magic system is arbitrary and the climax is a series of random haunted house gags. The family is aided by a former priest played by Raymond Cruz and the actor really hams it up. If he’s supposed to be tough or heroic, the holy man just comes across silly.
Bottom Line: The Curse of La Llorona continues the string of disappointing Conjuring spinoffs. The movie is not scary and it is often absurd, lame, and superficial.
Episode: #747 (April 28, 2019)