Directed by Michael Chaves
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez
Runtime: 93 minutes
This week we review The Curse of La Llorona. Just a quick note. I actually wasn’t in Portsmouth this week for the review. I know I know. Sorry Portsmouth Cinema! I’ll be back next week with of course…AVENGERS: ENDGAME. This week’s film was “set” in the Conjuring universe. I’m sure many of you have have seen at least one film from that “universe.” Some have been great. Both of The Conjuring films I thought were excellent. Some not so much. The first Annabelle in my opinion was terrible. I had somewhat high hopes for this one considering a new premise I didn’t know much about. I’ll be honest I’ve warmed up to it after several days of letting it process.
On to the film.
We start our film in 1673 in Mexico. Immediately the film gives off a creepy vibe from the music and atmosphere. The movie doesn’t waste any time. We see La Llorona (Ramirez) attacking her children. I’m using attacking lightly.
The film jumps to 1973 in Los Angeles. We meet Anna Tate-Garcia (Cardellini) She’s a social worker and is a recent widow. It’s apparent early on that her children Chris (Christou) and Samantha (Kinchen) are missing their father and Tate-Garcia is barely keeping things together. (Comes into play later) Through a series of events La Llorona becomes attached to her children and the mayhem ensues.
I expected several jump-scares, but this film took it over the top. You know the cliché “creaky door” sound. I think we heard it every other scene. A dark closets and guess what La Llorona appears. La Llorona’s makeup to me came off as over the top as well. A horror movie trying hard to be a horror movie to me doesn’t usually work. Then the worst part became the music. Something I raved about in the beginning took a complete 180. Truly the music to me screamed melodramatic with a “Lifetime movie”
vibe. Deep monologue. Cheesy music. Lights go out. Cheesy music. I started to envision the film as a bad romantic comedy. A big stretch but there were moments.
The romantic comedy aspect became even more apparent when Rafael Olvera (Cruz) appears. He’s a former priest that is reluctant to help but of course decides to after meeting the children. I know the movie didn’t intend to set that vibe, but it was almost comical how Olvera was laying on the smooth talk with Tate-Garcia. I will give Cruz credit though. I have enjoyed his work in Breaking Bad and hoped he would channel some of that charisma. He didn’t disappoint. Cardellini came off great as well. Her horrifying screams could have been toned down, but she really shined the farther and farther into madness she went.
The best scenes to me involved using eggs to determine if there was evil in the house. Cardellini quips, “I saw this on Johnny Carson.” She definitely didn’t see that. I was originally giving the film 2 stars. Not to spoil it completely but something happens to La Llorona which resembled a silicone goo that shocked and impressed me. The visuals shined there, if only for a moment.
Overall, I enjoyed the film for what it was. To me this was a nice time killer. If it’s a rainy evening and you want to get away, I would recommend it. More than likely most of you will be lined up for Avengers: Endgame. I get it. I will be as well, but this isn’t a film to completely write off. There were a few references to the Conjuring universe which was a nice tie-in to any of the previous films. I also enjoyed the cast. Everyone except the little girl was great, her decisions were some of the worst I’ve ever seen. (I’m looking at you teddy bear) Go in with low expectations and I think you will be presently surprised. After reading more of the lore behind the “real” curse of La Llorona I felt that was a ton of material that could have been used for a better film than we were given. Los Angeles seems to come up in 95% of films. I personally would have enjoyed a story to take place completely in Mexico. I left the theater feeling underwhelmed. I enjoyed myself but hoped for a little more. Give it a shot if you have the time and more importantly get excited for AVENGERS. 2 and a half stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCAL
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-981-9158.