The latest entry in Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Conjuring Universe arrives with The Curse of La Llorona from director Michael Chaves. Opening with a prologue in 1673 Mexico, a family is celebrating a joyous moment. All is not well. For reasons unknown, the mother drowns the children. Three hundred years later, a social worker Anna Tate- Garcia (Linda Cardellini) is investigating a case involving one of her clients Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez).
Mrs. Alvarez has locked her two sons in a closet because she wants to protect them from La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez). Anna has no choice but to take the boys away, and in typical horror fashion, they wind up dead. With her kids Chris (Roman Christou) and Sam (Jaynee-Lynee Kinchen) in tow, Anna goes to investigate. During Anna’s investigation, Chris sees a reflection of La Llorona outside of the family car. Chris’s curiosity gets the better of him and he winds up as La Llorona’s next prey. Soon, Anna and Sam are experiencing their own haunts from La Llorona. To save her family, Anna decides to seek out the help of a former priest turned shaman Rafael (Raymond Cruz).
After The Conjuring Universe’s previous film The Nun let me down this past fall, I was hoping The Curse of La Llorona would get the franchise back on track. Unfortunately, The Curse of La Llorona is not only another weak entry in the franchise, it’s one of the worst films I’ve seen in 2019. The script of duo Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis is the critical issue. Outside of the character Father Perez (Tony Amendola) who also made an appearance in The Conjuring Universe’s Annabelle from 2014, there is no apparent reason why this film should be part of the franchise. The finished product comes off as a cash grab. From weak jump scares and slow pacing, The Curse of La Llorona is a disjointed mess.
Linda Cardellini who is typically useful in the wife/mom roles, phones in her performance as Anna. Watching the film, it’s apparent that Cardellini only did this role for a paycheck. During tense moments of the film, instead of identifying with Anna’s fear, I felt no remorse for her. As a scream queen, Linda Cardellini should learn how to scream.
The only saving grace of The Curse of La Llorona is the supporting cast. In particular, Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynee Kinchen as Anna’s kids both showcased fear with ease. Patricia Velasquez and Raymond Cruz were also quite good, with Cruz stealing scenes. In hindsight, The Curse of La Llorona might have worked better as a PG-13 horror film focusing on Chris and Sam, with a lesser known actress such as Patricia Velasquez as the mom.
While I am by no means an expert on the horror genre, I do expect a horror film to deliver with the scares and a good scream queen lead, which this film fails to do. The Curse of La Llorona isn’t anything more than a cash grab and it doesn’t add anything fresh to The Conjuring Universe brand.