WARNER BROS. PICTURES (2019)
Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez
FROM THE PRODUCER OF THE CONJURING UNIVERSE! FROM THE PRODUCER OF THE CONJURING UNIVERSE!
The promo poster makes it explicitly clear that The Curse of La Llorona isn’t going to be very good by hanging its hat firmly on its producer’s credits. James Wan and Gary Dauberman have their names attached to this, though how much input they provided isn’t clear – except for maybe one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment part way through the movie that connects to the larger Conjuring Universe.
Based on the La Llorona legend from Latin America – a legend of a lady in a lake murdering her children out of vengeance – this is almost The Nun-lite. It’s a pretty similar idea - possessed ancient spirit/person manifests in more modern times to haunt people and take them or their children. Problem is, The Nun was frightfully bad and, predictably, The Curse of La Llorona isn’t really any better. It’s a mediocre horror-by-numbers, all shouting, no whispering. Relying on jump scares to sell the horror, La Llorona falls foul of cliché and convention in pretty much every scene and leaves no real impression upon the end credits rolling. La Llorona herself isn’t entirely imposing (of course, I wouldn’t want her in my bathroom) and, though whilst Cardellini tries her best with the material, the protagonists aren’t all that interesting. As for Raymond Cruz’s uber-one-dimensional former priest Rafael Olvera - shudder.
The movie's scares are telegraphed from a mile off which immediately takes away from any fear factor. Characters creep towards dark rooms or closed doors, faces etched with fear, the door opens and BANG – we all know what happens next. There are some good moments throughout, a bathtub scene is well done and a La Llorona orphanage assault (which sound odd to say), but these moments are too few and far between. The connection to the larger Conjuring Universe comes via the returning Father Perez (again played Tony Amendola) who had a larger role in Annabelle – however, it’s all very contained and minimal. What it does do is add another nail to the Conjuringverse coffin – The Conjuring and Annabelle: Creation were very good, the rest – really not that good. Add in some uninspired writing and visuals and everything seems to fall on the same level.
I’m always going to look forward to a horror movie on a dark evening, however, really good horrors are becoming few and far between. Despite having a promising premise, The Curse of La Llorona falls foul of formula and ends up being utterly mediocre – it’s frightfully uninteresting.
April 26th 2019