THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA is not one of those horror movies where the first Act is ominous and it falls apart as it reels toward a dumb climax; no, this movie breaks dumb from its opening frames, with the very event that defines its curse – in 1673, a Mexican mother drowns her two children, after discovering her husband is having an affair—wait, wouldn’t it make more sense to drown your husband? Or even his lover? We shake our head and continue… it seems this curses the woman to roam the Earth as a ghost in a wedding dress (reason? No reason), seeking out other children to drown (reason? No reason).
There are many variants of this tale, but this is the version they present here. Apparently, Mexican mothers scare their children with La Llorona to keep them indoors.
LOS ANGELES 1973: Linda Cardellini is widowed social worker Anna, with two young kids Chris (Roman Christou) and Sam (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). Anna is sent to check on a mother whose kids have been missing school, and discovers the Mexican mother, Patricia (Patricia Velasquez), has locked the boys in a closet, claiming she is protecting them from a “weeping woman.” The kids are taken to hospital, the mother to a holding cell.
Later, Patricia’s kids are found drowned. Patricia blames Anna, and will later admit that she prayed to La Llorona to bring her own boys back and take Anna’s children instead. Oh, so the ghost answers prayers, as Llorona starts terrorizing Anna’s kids immediately, with every horror movie cliché ever: thumps, dripping water, cracked mirrors, dark rooms, orchestra stabs, wrist grabs, door slams, doors ajar, doors flying open, appearing around corners, through windows, at bath time; able to teleport, yet has trouble with locked doors…
Father Perez (Tony Amendola, from ANNABELLE, which is in THE CONJURING Universe) recommends Anna hire an ex-priest, Rafael (Raymond Cruz – Tuco from BREAKING BAD!) to sort out her supernatural meth cooking—I mean, occurrences.
- There is contention on whether this movie IS, in fact, part of THE CONJURING universe, because its own director, Michael Chaves, denies it. Which raises the question: Is Father Perez here because he’s connecting the universes, or because there are No More Fucken Actors?
- Also: Rafael is an EX-priest and is now a shaman because…? Jesus was too weak, and the pagan arts are stronger against evil?
Yet even the intensity of Tuco can’t save this jumpscare slop. Maybe if he didn’t keep changing his story: at first, he says La Llorona has “attached herself to your family, not your house,” and then goes about guarding the house with his shaman talismans – eggs and rice and beans and oils – wait, is he purifying the house or cooking breakfast?
His efforts don’t seem to matter either way, as Llorona isn’t too focused on her job of drowning Anna’s kids. She physically puts her hands on Anna’s little girl, Sam, in the bathtub, starts drowning her – and then just stops; she grabs the children and flings them across rooms, then lets them run away; she winds down windows and slams doors and appears in any room they are in, yet never gets around to finishing the job. And despite all of Tuco’s amulets and incantations, Llorona just wanders the house freely, turning up in rooms protected by Tuco’s breakfast like none of it means squat. Tuco says “the light keeps her away,” so lights hundreds of candles – which Llorona simply… blows out. (How about turning on an electric light, Edison?). No rules, no logic, no investment – it’s magic who cares fuck you.
LA LLORONA is produced by horror wonderboy James Wan, who brings along his eerie composer Joseph Bishara, but new writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Jaconis are not doing these veterans any favors, simply copying and pasting from Horror For Dummies.
This movie’s R-rating is solely due to the fact that children are imperiled. No swearing, nudity, or Disney messaging. A more horrifying plot would’ve been the social worker’s kids being run through the same system that the social worker puts other people’s kids through. When Llorona grabbed Anna’s boy, she left marks on his wrist, and Anna was investigated by her own company. There was no follow-through after Anna hired Tuco, but imagine if the filmmakers had followed that throughline – a hard X rating for Adult Bureaucracy, Psychologically Detrimental, and definitely Imperiling Children like no ghost could possibly imagine.