6.5 / 10
Linda Cardellini as Anna Tate-Garcia
The Curse of La Llorona Review
The latest entry into The Conjuring universe is The Curse of La Llorona, based on the Mexican folklore of the Weeping Woman. La Llorona was a beautiful, poor villager who fell in love with a wealthy nobleman. They married and had two sons, but eventually, her husband took a younger woman as his lover. Enraged, La Llorona drowned her two sons in the river as a way to get revenge on her cheating husband. Realizing what she had done, and overcome with grief, La Llorona drowned herself. According to legend, La Llorona was denied entry into Heaven because of what she had done, and is forced to wander the earth, looking for children to replace the ones she drowned. They say if you hear her cries, you have been marked for death.
Set in Los Angeles in 1973, La Llorona follows Anna, a recently widowed children’s welfare agent with two children of her own. When she goes to help Patricia, a long-time client, she discovers Patricia has locked her sons in a closet. She insists it is to protect them from La Llorona, but is still arrested. Anna feels it is the right decision when she discovers the boys have burns on their arms. In their first night in custody, the boys are found drowned to death in the river. Anna takes her kids when she goes to the crime scene in the middle of the night, and after a frightening encounter with La Llorona, they are marked for death as well.
Cerebral horror films like Hereditary and Us are great, but sometimes, you just want a simple scare flick. La Llorona offers exactly that. The plot is straightforward. No twists or philosophical conundrums to grapple with. The scares are straightforward, too. They are mostly jump scares (fairly effective ones, by the audience response) and an overall sense of dread.
Linda Cardellini, who plays Anna, does a fine job leading the film. She is strong and commanding when she needs to be; soft and vulnerable when she should be. Her kids, played by Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, are nothing special, but are not obnoxious, which is a win in my book when it comes to children. Raymond Cruz, who plays Rafael, a former priest and current brujandero, brings an unexpectedly dry humor to the role. Patricia Velasquez, who plays Patricia, pulls off her role very well, despite the fact that the script doesn’t seem to know if she should be treated as a victim or a villain.
La Llorona’s connection to the rest of The Conjuring universe seems tenuous at best. Other than a brief appearance by Tony Amendola, who reprises his role of Father Perez from Annabelle and mentions the Annabelle doll as proof of his experience with the supernatural, there is no connection. La Llorona was never mentioned in any other The Conjuring universe film, and aside from the three minutes with Father Perez, none of the other characters or creatures from The Conjuring universe are mentioned.
The Curse of La Llorona is a solid little flick. It probably won’t make waves; it probably won’t impress die-hard horrorhounds. It may make more of an impression on someone who was raised hearing stories of La Llorona. Either way, it is an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes.