Mexican folklore gets the big screen treatment with the The Curse of La Llorona – an entry into The Conjuring Universe – about the ghost of a woman who drowned her children and haunts future victims who can hear her tears. In this feature length version of the tale of “The Weeping Woman,” Michael Chaves makes his directorial debut with a story written by Tobias Iaconis and Mikki Daughtry. The Curse of La Llorona stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Roman Christou and Marisol Ramirez. Spoilers after the trailer.
We Are Weeping With You
When it was announced that New Line Cinema’s “The Children” had been re-titled to The Curse of La Llorona, things looked ever so promising for this adaptation of Mexican folklore. Later on, when Linda Cardellini was announced as the lead in the film, fans and people who grew up with the tale of Latin folklore were highly upset, and they had every right to be. Hollywood has a history of whitewashing culture in the media for profit that goes back further than the sidewalk of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The film is set during 1973 Los Angeles and follows a social worker named Ann Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) as she investigates the disappearance of the two children of Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velásquez). The more she investigates, the more bizarre things become for her and her family. Tate-Garcia is raising two children of her own; Chris Garcia (Roman Christou) and Samantha Garcia (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), on top of that, she’s the widow of a slain police officer. Before La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez) enters the picture, the Tate-Garcia family has already had its own share of misfortunes, but once the family is haunted by her things become comical.
Both children of Patricia Alvarez were discovered drowned which causes Patricia to put a curse on Ann-Tate Garcia because if it wasn’t for her meddling her kids would still be alive. Alvarez stated that she prayed that La Llorona would come and take Tate-Garcia’s kids, which is why throughout the film the Tate-Garcia’s are being haunted by the ghost. Visually, the movie has some cool shots like the umbrellas shot below where the little girl sees La Llorona through her umbrella.
So, to say this movie didn’t have some type of effort, it would be completely disingenuous. There was a complete overuse of jump scares in an effort to make the film scary but it’s hard to be scared when you cannot take the movie seriously. The makeup on La Llorona was ghouly, so at least she looked the part but that was the only thing consistent about her character. Whatever powers she had seemed to play a part in the film for whenever it was convenient. In one scene she’s telekinetic, and next she is comically dragging people around, and there was one scene where she possessed one of the children but a scene later it was as if that never happened.
When Tobias Iaconis and Mikki Daughtry were writing this movie it was as if they were 1) not familiar with the folklore this was based on; 2) did not know how to write a horror movie; or 3) had to force things to fit into The Conjuring Universe; or maybe it’s a combination of the three. Personally, I could not stop laughing during this movie and there is a point where it jumps the shark and throws out all disbelief when Samantha Garcia has to go outside to get her doll. Whew! Whoever decided to write that scene they way they did deserves a Razzie! For some reason Patricia Alvarez, the same lady who prayed for La Llorona to curse the Garcia family, arrives at the Garcia’s home and shoots Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz) – and not even five minutes later ends up helping Tate-Garcia – for no reason. Seriously, Iaconis and Daughtry have to get a Razzie for writing this film.
Cardellini is the best thing this movie has going for it. She and Raymond Cruz had a fun chemistry in the scenes that they shared together. It’s a shame that the script was incredibly weak because if this were a better movie than their pairing wouldn’t of felt like a waste. There is a meta reference to Scooby-Doo which is a film that Cardellini starred in the early aughts. The two child actors were fine, they didn’t ruin the film so that’s a positive. Michael Chaves did an okay job at directing, he kept the camera moving and had an intriguing way of making angles work in his favor. Chaves has directed music videos for Billie Eilish in the past so he knows how to shoot things in a way that makes them look creepy.
La Llorona wasn’t the only one with the curse because the Conjuring Universe is cursed outside of James Wan’s Conjuring films. This movie might have been the easiest softball for a movie that there ever was. This is yet another film where the source material was right there to create something terrifying from the view of the kids. There wasn’t a moment that I wasn’t entertained so the movie got that right, even if I laughed for unintentional reasons. A film about Mexican folklore should have either been set in Mexico or celebrated the fact that it was based on Mexican folklore. When people talk about representation in film and seeing stories that have already been told hundreds of times this is what they mean by that. The Curse of La Llorona could’ve been a truly horrifying adaptation of something that hasn’t been done in mainstream cinema, but instead it’s just a side story in what’s currently the worst cinematic universe.
[All Mames Wey]
The Curse of La Llorona was released in theaters April 19, 2019.