The Curse of La Llorona
review by Bobby Blakey
Before James Wan was taking on the big screen adaptation of the King of Atlantis he was bringing horror fans a variety of great franchises including SAW, Insidious and The Conjuring Universe. Wan hand-picked director Michael Chaves for the third chapter in the Conjuring series who had impressed Wan with his work on his upcoming film The Curse of La Llorona starring Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, and newcomer Roman Christou. Could this latest horror bring the famed legend to life or will it drown in its own sorrow?
The films follows La Llorona, a horrifying apparition, caught between Heaven and Hell, trapped in a terrible fate sealed by her own hand. In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide. While not Hispanic myself my best friend and wife both are and I grew up hearing about this legend and with Wan producing I was all in and hoping for something fresh and what I got was what I expected in a good way.
Since the trailers and reviews have already spoiled it this is another official film in the Conjuring Universe, but unlike the others still stands firmly on its own. There is a small connection to remind you that it is all tied together, but not one where you really ever needed to see any of the others. The story is pretty simple and they kept it within the hour and half mark so that the pace keeps moving and while it worked for me it wasn’t quite as strong as I had hoped. This film relied heavily on the jump scares which is fine, but I always hope that they take
it in a creepier and disturbing route to really be effective. Either way it works fine and was still pretty enjoyable.
The cast all did a good job and it taking place in the 70s and overall tone keeps it planted in the style that have made the Conjuring Universe so popular. Cardellini carries the movie well with both of the kids holding their own as well. I always love seeing the great Raymond Cruz playing a new kind of part and here he brings a sense of dry humor to the role that helps ease some of the tension, but also makes it work. While it didn’t come off scary to me, I was more invested in the legend and seeing so many Hispanic rituals which made it all the better for me.
In the end this is one of those films that will likely work better for those that know the legend and were scared by it as children and the hardcore Conjuring Universe fans. It does play a bit too by the numbers throughout and offers up some predictable moments, but still manages to entertain.
In addition to the film this release includes bonus content including deleted scenes, storyboards, and featurettes behind bringing the legend to the life. Beware The Curse of La Llorona available now on digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on August 6th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.