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Review: The Curse of La Llorona

by Tony Ruggio

Latino audiences are the leading demo for moviegoing so Hollywood ignores them at their own peril. Cynical though it is, somebody at Warner Bros said "no mas" and rang James Wan to add one more wrinkle to his ever-expanding Conjuring universe.

Serving as producer, Wan's fingerprints are everywhere. From swooping dollies and immaculate crane work, to an early scene of kids frolicking to 70's tunes, La Llorona often flatters the original with homage. The simple foreboding of a dark corner in the room or a hazy reflection in the mirror, it’s all there and it works for the most part...

Directed by up-and-comer Michael Chaves, the film is well-made and often scary enough, utilizing familiar tricks that still do the trick. They're all jump scares, but they send a chill down your spine regardless. Linda Cardellini gives her best mama bear and the kids (Roman Christou, Jaynee Lynne) give it their all. Sean Patrick Thomas shows up for what seems like the first time in ages, and Raymond Cruz injects humor and gall as a former priest operating outside of the Catholic Church. Wielding bloody eggs, garden seeds, and ornate dream-catchers, he's better than a priest; He's a shaman.

Where Llorona falters are the other characters, thinly drawn and prone to dumb mistakes and dumber writing. You know, the stuff so-so horror films are made of. Why does the mother (Cardellini) leave her kids alone so frequently, even after evil has arrived and made itself known to her? Why are the kids so quiet and so awful at assuaging social services? Why is an old raggedy Ann doll so important to the daughter, to the point where she'll risk everything for it? The latter is a true head-scratcher, and can't be chalked up to mere childhood stupidity. Kids aren't stupid, and they're definitely not stupid about ghosts and things that go bump in the night. The connection to The Conjuring is tenuous at best, with a brief flashback the only thing placing Llorona in that universe.

Based on opening weekend numbers, Hollywood would do well to stop ignoring so many patrons. Better than The Nun, but far below the likes of The Conjuring or its sequel, The Curse of La Llorona is a flawed but fun little haunted ride by way of Mexican folklore. C+

all 2019 reviews


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Reader Comments (6)

Not to nitpick, but the legend of La Llorona is part of the Folklore of a lot of Latin American countries, not just Mexico. It could be traced to pre columbian stories, and even to some African stories and folklore.

April 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

True, but in the context of the film we're following a Mexican-American family, and the backstory of La Llorona is presented as one of Mexican origins.

April 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTr

I agree with @ Pedro - Latino culture is not just Mexican culture- even thought Hollywood seems to think the only Latinos worth making a film about are Mexicans. The movie looks like another routine horror film- La Llorona has been featured in plenty of direct to video movies- what's next El Chupacabra strikes again?

April 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

thx, i like this

April 28, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermegan

this article is very helpful for me

May 2, 2019 | Unregistered Commentertabbayun

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