Review by: The Grump Of Horror
After a case worker intervenes, a troubled woman’s children are found drowned. Shortly after, her children and herself find themselves being tormented by an evil spirit…
James Wan as director and producer has made a name for himself, along with Jason Blum, as one the current leaders in horror in the U.S. From the first Saw film, but particularly through Dead Silence to the Insidious films , then The Conjuring films, he’s become the go to man for the ‘quiet, quiet, BANG’ jump scare horror. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a number of films that follow this format and there’s no denying Wan is very good at it.
Although he’s only directed the two Conjuring films, he’s produced the Annabelle (and it’s prequel and upcoming sequel) and The Nun spin-off’s. Not surprisingly it’s become known as the ‘Conjuring universe.’ Personally, I think it a ridiculous name, but then it’s not up to me.
The Curse Of La Llorona is a loose tie-in to that universe. The priest character here, Father Perez appeared in the first Annabelle film. His role here is small however. That said, considering the film is being advertised as ‘from the producers of The Conjuring Universe,’ I’m surprised with the connection, they didn’t play up that aspect more.
However, La Llorona does actually share a similar structure to that of Annabelle, in that (loosely) bad things befall a family and it then passes to another one. It’s not the first time this has been done and it certainly won’t be the last, but the question to be asked is, has this film used the plot well?
The answer? On the whole, not so good.
The problem with La Llorona is that, you can’t escape the ‘been here, done this’ aspect of the story and this is a shame, as with a couple of little tweaks, there was a lot of potential here.
The main character, Anna, is a case worker dealing with at risk children. However, when the evil comes after her children and marks and injures them, there is the possibility of an interesting subplot, of her being investigated for abuse. Sadly, it’s never developed. Perhaps something was written or edited out, but I feel that plot would have added something interesting to the story.
Also, like a number of the films of this type, it cannot resist the overblown final act, as Anna and her children, along with a former priest battle La Lorona. It would be nice if a film like this could resist going for the loud finale, and try something quieter and possibly scarier.
Michael Chaves, the film’s director, does manage to create a couple of effective jump scares in the film, but it’s never as scary as you want it to be. As I said, I think the writers, Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis have an interesting legend at the film’s heart but I don’t think this story fits the type of horror film the producers really wanted.
The cast aren’t bad. Linda Cardellini plays the lead, Anna and is pretty good, as are Roman Cheistou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen as her children. Raymond Cruz plays Olvera, the former Priest who helps them and there are smaller roles for Sean Patrick Thomas, a police officer friend of the family and Patricia Velasquez as the woman who’s children La Llorona takes. They too are perfectly fine.
The Curse Of Llorona is well made certainly, but really there isn’t anything new here at all. It could be simply that the formula for this type of film, the ‘quiet, quiet, BANG’ type of scare needs refreshing in some way or perhaps left alone for a little while. However, with another Annabelle film coming soon, I guess it’ll be around for awhile yet.
Not a bad film then, but sadly just an average one.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5