The Curse of La Llorona
Dir. Michael Chaves (2019)
The Mexican folktale of the crying woman who drowns children become part of the Conjuring Universe because Hollywood doesn’t do original.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
The Curse of La Llorona is the first Conjuring spinoff that has not been mentioned in the other films at all, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the film itself is cursed by the very thing it depended on for publicity. By tying the film into The Conjuring Universe (CU), the unnecessary comparisons between this film and others within the CU, I believe, ultimately led to its downfall.
Linda Cardellini is a goddamn treasure and I’ve loved her in every film she’s been in, including this one. She’s a very good actress, and she helps tremendously to carry this film. She plays a social worker who is also a mother, and two of the children under her care are drowned by La Llorona. La Llorona is a Mexican folktale used to scare children into behaving themselves. She drowned her own two children because her husband cheated on her, and now she’s searching for children to replace hers. Now that Linda Cardellini is involved, her children are threatened and she has to figure out to defeat the monster to save her own offspring.
Seen here comforting one of her children while the ghost tries to drown the other one.
It’s a good old-fashioned ghost story, something that you don’t hear from many reviews or other places because everyone is so concerned with how the film relates to the CU. The film gets a bad rap because it’s related to the other films despite there being no real need to do so. Yes, Annabelle shows up, and the tenuous connection with he priest from Annabelle does relate the film to the CU, but why? If you left out that five second clip that shows the priest with the doll, the movie wouldn’t be terrible as a stand-alone flick.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is not that great. It’s a standard horror film, along the lines of Case 39 or Mama. They’re not great but they’re good time killers, and you’ll think back several years after having seen it and think, “Oh yeah, I remember that movie! That wasn’t that bad, maybe I’ll give it another watch!” Except, in this case, it’s a “Conjuring” movie, so everyone is like, “Oh yeah, I remember that movie! It’s a piece of shit!” So, for that reason, I’m going to view this movie more as I view remakes: it has to be viewed as its own thing. And, if you view it as its own thing, it really isn’t that bad.
The effects are fun, it’s not overly scary, and the acting is actually legitimately good. It’s a ghost story starring Linda Cardellini, and if viewed as such it’s really not half bad. Even the kids are pretty good actors, and there some legit good jump scares that come out of nowhere and are pretty surprising. It’s also got Tuco from Breaking Bad, which was surprising in a throwback kinda way. It takes place in the 70’s, so there’s a lot of great atmosphere and music, cars, and décor from your parent’s houses. La Llorona is pretty creepy looking, and she’s a great foil for Linda Cardellini’s awesomeness.
The original Bridezilla.
All in all, I was surprised this one was as good as it is because of all of the terrible things I’ve heard about it. Compared to the second Annabelle and The Nun, La Llorona is waaaaaay better. If you take yourself out of the CU mindset, the film could stand alone and could be one you wouldn’t mind re-watching occasionally. Just don’t go into it expecting one of the Farmigas, cuz they’re nowhere to be found.
Who this movie is for: People who don’t mind watching movies that aren’t The Conjuring, People who want to give it another shot after blowing it off the first time, People who thought Velma was the best part of Scooby Doo 1 & 2
Bottom Line: Way better than I thought it would be, this was my first watch. If you haven’t seen it, give it a shot, it’s not that bad. Some delightfully good jump scares and creepy imagery, good cinematography, and pretty-good acting, this one slid past just because people wrote it off as a loser. Standard ghost story, not gonna be on anybody’s top lists, but let’s be honest: 90% of what we watch isn’t. Give this one another look.