The Curse of La Llorona
The Curse of La Llorona is a minor Conjuring Universe entry, impressively directed, but poorly written. Michael Chaves is no James Wan, but he wields the camera with a purpose that captures the tension and scares to their fullest capabilities, despite the yawn-inducing script that wastes most of its potential on repeat jumps and very minor plot development.
The Curse of La Llorona is the latest spook-fest from the producers of The Conjuring Universe. The film isn’t billed as a direct installment in the never-ending series, yet it shares similar traits (and characters). Director Michael Chaves proves that he knows how to capture and present dread and terror in a way that feels skillful and fresh, despite the film’s script failing to conjure up its own set of scares or purpose. The Curse of La Llorona feels very much like B-horror movie material, sitting rather low on The Conjuring Universe roster.
The haunting story of La Llorona follows Anna (Linda Cardellini) as she witnesses first-hand the terror that comes with this mysteriously evil entity that starts with an innocent woman and her two boys and quickly spreads to Anna and her own children.
As the story goes, La Llorona prays on children, infecting them with her cry and tears, which soon leads to their deaths as she consumes them and moves onto the next unsuspecting family.
The basic framework of The Curse of La Llorona works, because it features a creepy demon that all but guarantees some nightmares that might not be easily shook.
Writers Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis set up the family and the titular character fine, but they struggle finding enough grounds to warrant a full-on movie. The Curse of La Llorona doesn’t really progress from A to B, instead retreading on the setup of jump scare after jump scare. You don’t really learn much about Anna’s family, aside from the fact that she’s a window struggling to keep ends meet as she raises her children.
The film tries to introduce a few interesting characters, but nothing really adds up. Raymond Cruz gives the film a somewhat memorable performance as Rafael, the demon doctor that has been outlawed by the church. The problem with this character is that we’ve already seen it before, despite Cruz throwing some mad shade in the name of demon-slaying.
Director Michael Chaves shows that he has potential to be a great horror director, if given the right script. His ability to move the camera is impressive and very reminiscent of James Wan, but there’s still much to learn as Chaves is now next in line to director The Conjuring 3.
I can see why Wan would have selected him, as his patience and steady movement helps build tension and progresses the moment to the eventual jump scare — it’s just too bad that most of the scares feel telegraphed and awfully repetitive.
Annabelle: Creation proved that there’s plenty of mileage left in The Conjuring universe, yet The Nun showed us that little care yields poor results.
The creative talent is going to have to step it up a notch in order for these movies to work and become effective pieces of modern day horror. The Conjuring films (and Wan’s own Insidious entries) work because of Wan’s ability not only as a director, but as a writer. He brings the proper amount of detail and creativity to get your blood curdling and your imagination running.
Lazy cash grabs only work for the initial scares and the first weekend at the box office — nothing more. The Curse of La Llorona is another flop that I’m sure will make a truckload of money, but fail to remain relevant as we move forward in cinematic time.