Curse of Aurore (2021)

American filmmakers travel to the middle of Quebec to learn more about Aurore L’Enfant Martyre and disturb something otherworldly in the process.

Let’s start with a bit of background here, I am from Quebec, I have known the story of Aurore my whole life, she has been used as a point of comparison by some parents when their kids complained things were not fair or good in their house for a century. Her story is something not one Quebecois can ignore and everyone knows about her and how she was tortured, how she died, and how she was found. A few films have been made about her story, one in 1952 called “La petite Aurore l’enfant martyre” and one in in 2005 called simply Aurore, and a few others. Usually, these films have had a questionable quality and/or something seriously off about them, so going in to this one, it felt like it could easily become exploitative and be a frustrating watch.

Here, the film is written by Llana Barron and Mehran C. Torgoley with the latter directing and the former starring. The film takes the found footage road sending American filmmakers, thus explaining why it’s in English, to the middle of Quebec to get inspiration and work on their next script. As they film everything they are doing with some of the worst shaky cam in a long time at times, they end up investigating the story of Aurore and seeing some creepy things along the way. The film does make use of the locations as part of its story, it does seem to get most of the Aurore lore (as it is lore at this point) correct, and it manages to get something that is at times a bit tense. There are a few bits here and here that are genuinely creepy, but overall, this is not exactly a scary film in any way and the absolutely horrific story of Aurore is kept to a minimum in terms of details This could have been done with just about any other story of a child that was tortured or died in nebulous circumstances and it would not have made that much of a difference. The one good point they get here is that they are not using the same old, same old backstory, so that is a good point to the story.

The cast here is led by Llana Barron as Lena and she does good work in her part. Helping sell the found footage is the fact that she has only a few previous credits and nothing huge, so she was not familiar going in and could sell the part better. Playing her film making partners and doing similarly well are Lex Wilson as Aaron and Jordan Kaplan as Kevin. These two balance her out in an interesting way, showing up as a bit of two oddities in remote Quebec as two California boys going through winter in one of the coldest places you can easily reach. The locals used throughout the film work decently well, with most of them having the very Quebecois accent that is so familiar to those growing up in the area.

The cinematography, or camera work, credited to the three leads is honestly a nightmare at times. While it has its moments, the shaky cam is what it is. It’s an annoyance to some and fun to others, but for this reviewer, it’s definitely an annoyance. Given that the three leads are filmmakers, it could have easily be shot with many more good, stable sequences and so much fewer shaky ones. Yes, when they are scared it makes sense to get a shaky cam situation, but there are sequences that should have been stable given the characters backgrounds and it was a pain to watch. This is something that was done right in Trollhunter (2010) and that more films should pick up from.

Curse of Aurore is not bad, but it suffers from not enough scares and too much shaky cam. The performances are good, the setting is interesting, the Quebec countryside looks unwelcoming and cold, and the use of Aurore’s story is not too exploitative. The film is an easy watch, but unless the viewer is really into found footage, there’s a high chance they’ll check out after about a third of the film.