The Curse Of La Llorona
Reviewed By A.S. MacKenzie
Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis (Screenplay) • Michael Chaves (Director) • Emile Gladstone, Gary Dauberman, and James Wan (Producers)
Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.
When sitting in a plane the media options are limited. They’ve been getting better over the years and now with most airlines having some sort of seat-back screen with multiple options, it’s getting much better. But, if you fly a lot, as this writer does, you find out there really isn’t much new to watch.
Flipping through the selections of movies on a recent flight and was trying to decide if it should be the newest Stephen King remake or the OTHER newest Stephen King remake when the poster for The Curse of La Llorona showed up. It was intriguingly simple: white-gowned woman, amongst trees, standing in water, glancing sideways at the camera through a veil. Clicked on it, read the description, and thought, yeah, I’ll bite.
The story takes place primarily in 1973 Los Angeles centered on a social worker and her two kids, but starts in 1673 Mexico. We meet La Llorona before she earned that name (which means The Crying Woman) when she was alive and well, playing with her kids, then jumps to her drowning one and chasing the other. Not exactly a light-hearted beginning, but the visuals were outstanding, so I kept going.
Jumping to 1973 we see the social worker Anna investigate the report of a mother whose sons haven’t been to school in days. She finds them at their home, locked in a closet, with the mother screaming to not let them out. That it wasn’t safe. That ‘she’ was coming. In terms of foreshadowing, this was a big one. Anna takes the kids to a hospital because they seemed hurt. There, the boys run into La Llorona who apparently has learned an iron-willed tenacity in the afterlife. Cut to Anna being woken in the middle of the night because the two boys were found in the river. While there, and since it was the middle of the night and she was recently widowed, she brought her two children and left them in the car. The brother, Chris, leaves the sister, Sam, in the car to go see what all the fuss is about. While sneaking around, he hears a woman crying and does the really not-so-great decision of investigating. Now, La Llorona sees him, wants him, and proves her willingness to literally break the world in order to get more children.
Anna at first doesn’t know why her kids are so freaked out, but eventually, she meets the Crying Woman for herself and all doubt is stripped away. Going to a priest she recently met, who coincidentally enough was the same priest from Annabelle (shared universe), and finds out the true story of the wraith intent on taking her children. Now, with the help of a recommended spiritualist, they battle against La Llorona in a single night knockout fight.
Overall, not a bad movie and not just because I was in a middle seat on a long flight and couldn’t go anywhere. No, this really wasn’t a bad movie. I don’t think it was great, though. The reason I don’t think it was great came down to the fact that using jump scares were the main way these filmmakers seemed to want to convey horror. I like a good jump scare, every now and then, but when you can immediately tell when yet another jump scare is about to take place, that’s too much. The dialogue was good, acting worked well, and the visual effects were nicely done. The cinematography was also quite good, especially in those initial shots set in Mexico. Really, my only complaint was the lack of suspense in favor of quick scares. It really could have been quite suspenseful, and they knew how to do it based on one scene, too.
In one scene, the daughter Sam was in the bath while Anna and Chris were downstairs. We see La Llorona behind her while she is washing her hair. The black-edged hands reach forward and gently start to wash the little girl’s hair. It was an incredibly suspenseful scene because we were expecting at any moment for some violence to start and the for us to jump, but it didn’t happen. I won’t spoil the scene, but suffice to say, it was excellent as a taste of what could have been.
If you watch the film and are prone to flinging popcorn or punching a significant other when the jump scare happens, maybe watch it in a different chair while not holding anything. There are other, better, horror films out there, but this one can stand on its own as a solid entry into the genre.
The Curse Of La Llorona
In 1970s Los Angeles, the legendary ghost La Llorona is stalking the night – and the children.
Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother, a social worker and her own kids are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.
Their only hope of surviving La Llorona’s deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.
A. S. MacKenzie
A. S. MacKenzie is an Atlanta based author who loves all things books, movies, games, and comics. He lives with his wife, spoiled dogs, and an unhealthy obsession with building things. He can be found building worlds in books, building plastic models, or building with wood. Check out his website at asmackenzie.com for ways to join his newsletter and read free stories. Also, he’s been known to frequent Twitter (@a_s_mackenzie) to say something vaguely interesting and Instagram (a.s.mackenzie) for food, travel, and random pics.
Enjoyed your review and I too enjoyed the film- felt a bit like a cult B film in the making to me, not a full on A- but effective moments