The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Director: Michael Chaves
Screenwriters: Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez
The possibilities for making a $9 million horror film about La Llorona are nearly endless. The filmmakers possessed a wealth of regional folklore from Central and Southern America dating back to the pre-Colonial era, and while La Llorona isn’t necessarily unique as an idea, the stories in history range from Aztec myth about a roaming, weeping snake goddess to a young Mexican woman marrying into a family of higher social status only to be cast aside by her husband. Director Michael Chaves and company had the chance to create a syntheses of stories that could convey history and themes relevant to modern viewers, but instead offered a collection of horror tropes and cliches with nothing unique or interesting to set it apart from any ghost/spirit film any of us have ever seen before.
The Curse of La Llorona, written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, manages to express very little apart from vague notions about the positives of faith, love and family. The characters have no emotional arc, just allusions to situations or feelings without any real underlying conflict. What’s worse is that the ghost has no logic; the “big twist” the protagonist takes forever to learn was underwhelming and created a plot hole so large you will wish you could escape through it and into a better movie.
Jump scares in horror films aren’t all that popular in the current market but still have a place when done correctly. Here, the jump scares are derivative, but what’s worse is that they’re almost all exactly the same. Long moments of swelling tension building, the mood driven by the audience’s expectations of what will emerge into the frame with a visual and audible bang. By this point, we’ve all seen this spooky cinematographic misdirection, we’ve seen a creepy woman in a wedding dress, we’ve seen characters hear sounds and wander aimlessly. Seemingly torn between the decision to use a basement or an attic, the writers decided we needed both.
The Curse of La Llorona is a film that will disappoint the horror enthusiasts amongst us as it certainly did little to leap over the very low expectations of this particular reviewer. Unlike last year’s The Nun, which took a different approach as a gothic horror film, this film is a weak entry into the Conjuring Universe (still can’t believe that’s a thing). The lack of creativity and imagination behind this film’s production is perhaps the most frustrating aspect, and one thing that is likely to turn away any fan of horror.
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