The Curse of La Llorona

 

star

 


A scrap of Mexican folklore is used to beef up this repetitive and redundant chiller.

   

The Curse of La Llorona

Boo! Roman Christou gets the fright of his life - but not ours
 

And Linda Cardellini was having such a good year. Besides appearing in the record-breaking Avengers: Endgame (as the wife of Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye), she was the female lead in Green Book, this year’s best picture Oscar winner. But now her luck has changed. Here, she plays Anna Tate-Garcia, the mature mother of two young children who are being preyed on by a Mexican demon. The latter has been unleashed on Anna’s family by a vindictive mother whose own two children were drowned by La Llorona, an act that she blames on Anna. Anna, a widow struggling to balance her role as a mother and a social worker operating alongside the LAPD, inadvertently exposed the dead children to the wrath of the demon, largely because she didn’t believe in such supernatural nonsense. But this realm, loosely aligned to Warner Bros’ so-called Conjuring Universe, is very real to its characters, particularly when burns appear on their wrists and doors take on a life of their own.

 

The Curse of La Llorona, which marks the feature directorial debut of Michael Chaves, is adapted from a Mexican folk tale about a grieving woman whose ghost picks on those mortals who hear her cries. However, this adaptation is starved of innovation, logic and credibility, not to mention a gripping storyline. It’s also one of those films in which the characters hardly help themselves by refusing to divulge what is scaring the waste matter out of them. Only when Anna, her kids and a charismatic priest (F. Murray Abraham lookalike Tony Amendola) confront the problem in plain English, do matters start to improve.

 

La Llorona herself is a familiar old bat, who initially only appears in reflections and in her victims’ peripheral vision, before taking more physical form. Her modus operandi is to appear out of nowhere and scream at people, grab their wrists or just try to drown them. And we know when she’s coming, because the film goes all quiet and Michael Chaves slows his camera down to a snail’s pace. Unfortunately, there’s nothing remotely interesting between the stock jump scares and the latter, repeated ad infinitum, just get more and more tedious.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola.

 

Dir Michael Chaves, Pro James Wan, Gary Dauberman and Emile Gladstone, Screenplay Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, Ph Michael Burgess, Pro Des Melanie Jones, Ed Peter Gvozdas, Music Joseph Bishara, Costumes Megan Spatz.

 

New Line Cinema/Atomic Monster Productions-Warner Bros

93 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 3 May 2019. Cert. 15.