Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Curse of La Llorona

Movie Name: The Curse of La Llorona
Year of Release: 2019
Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Irene Keng, John Marhsall Jones
Genre: Suspense, Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
View the Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
"The Curse of La Llorona" is director Michael Chaves feature directorial debut, following a series of shorts and some work on a TV mini-series. The film, produced by writer/producer/director James Wan, is not part of the "Conjuring" universe, though it has some references to it in passing. The story focuses on social worker Anna, who finds herself coming to terms with a life without the presence of her husband, who has passed away. She is tackled with dealing with a case involving two small children who live with their mother. Upon a house visit, she discovers the children hidden in a storage room, and the mother of the children terrified. The woman claims La Llorona is coming for them. Not hearing the claims of the woman, the children are taken into custody, only to be killed by the entity. When a distraught Anna goes to check on the aftermath of that sad occurrence, she has her own kids in her car, who then become the targets for La Llorona. Initially in disbelief, Anna witnesses that entity in her house, and desperately seeks counseling and help from a Priest, who sends her in the direction of a former priest who can possibly help her.
"The Curse of La Llorona" may not be an official chapter in "The Conjuring" universe, but it definitely shares some DNA with that series of films. Not necessarily in execution and effectiveness of the story and characters development, but definitely more so on how the supernatural menace is created, and how it impacts the nuclear aspect of a family that has just been through a traumatic event. It's a film that lacks the finesse and gradual aspect that James Wan brought to the original "The Conjuring", where suggestions, gave way to more demonstrable scares. The scares here are less effective, since the curse itself, and the backstory for the supernatural entity, feels less credible and not well explored. Still the film manages to be a good showcase for the underrated Linda Cardellini, who tries to bring some dimension to the lead character, a recent widowed woman, dealing with two young children, while also being a social worker and in essence, dealing with traumatic families all the time. The cinematography work from Michael Burgess is impeccably executed. While not an ostensibly bad film, it's a quickly forgettable one. Here's hoping Michael Chaves finds some meatier narratives to work with in the future.