The Curse of La Llorona (2019)

“The Conjuring” movie universe has been a horror lovers dream, but sadly a mixed bag of movies that all interconnect in some form. The core movies that started it all are fantastic, while the rest have been either abysmal or mediocre. Thankfully, there was still some momentum in the popularity of Annabelle to allow for “Annabelle: Creation” to restore the missed opportunity that was her spin off. “The Curse of La Llorona” is a nice departure from Ed and Lorraine Warren that digs deep in to the roots of “The Conjuring” universe. It’s a horror drama about parenting, grief, revenge, and a vicious maternal villain like the previous films, but this time the producers dig in to Latin folklore.

In 1973 Los Angeles, the legendary ghost La Llorona is stalking the night — and the children of a young mother desperate to protect them. Ignoring the eerie warning of the troubled mother, social worker Anna Garcia and her own kids are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm with La Llorona terrorizing and stalking each of them. Their only hope of surviving La Llorona’s deadly wrath is a disillusioned ex-priest who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.

“The Curse of La Llorona” won’t be for everyone. I’m more than willing to admit that the movie is not without its glaring flaws, but when all was said and done, “The Curse of La Llorona” is a very creepy, often chilling tale. The film is presented with a firm understanding of Latin folklore and takes a great emphasis on the tragic but terrifying elements of the tale of La Llorona. It’s nice to see the Conjuring universe digging in to other forms of folklore and the supernatural, and the producers take the right step digging in to the element of latin mythology. Director Michael Chaves does a great job bringing us in to this tale that’s filled with themes of revenge, and irony, and I was taken with the specter of La Llorona. Granted, she’s not as spooky as the Nun, but La Llorona is horrifying in her ability to lunge from dark corners, and creep in the reflections of random mirrors.

Director Chaves has a lot of fun with this device, offering a great scene involving a closing door, and a creepy moment with Anna’s daughter spotting the monster through the shield of her umbrella. There’s so much more that unfolds within the seams of the narrative, and the writers develop the big turn of events with some great misdirection, and creative overtones about parental negligence. That said, a lot of “The Curse of La Llorona” bides its time almost dragging its feet on progressing the tension, making its characters almost too flippant, even when confronted by the demon. Even in the first confrontation involving a rolling window, the characters still shrug it all off inexplicably. The children also stay shockingly silent about being terrorized by the ghost again, for reason never clarified or rationalized.

The worst error the film commits though is white washing the key element of the narrative. This is a film based around Hispanic characters, it’s a horror movie based on a Latin legend, set in the inner city, it’s a monster that preys on Latin kids, and there’s a Latin supporting cast, and yet the primary protagonist is a white woman? I have nothing against Linda Cardellini, but I just couldn’t help but think there was someone of actual latin descent that could have taken on the role with greater effect. In either case, “The Curse of La Llorona” is a fun little horror yarn much in the vein of “Lights Out.” It spooks, it jolts, and it fits well in to “The Conjuring” movie universe.