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Blu-ray Review: The Curse of La Llorona

August 6, 2019

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

New Line Cinema continues their cornering of the mainstream horror movie market with The Curse of La Llorona, which serves as a loosely connected spin-off of their hugely popular Conjuring franchise, a series that has already been expanded to include last year’s The Nun and the recently completed trilogy of Annabelle films.

Produced by James Wan, who is the creative through line of this cinematic universe, The Curse of La Llorona connects to the series through the presence of Father Perez (Tony Amendola), the priest from the first Annabelle film, which was itself a prequel to The Conjuring.

This technically makes it the sixth film in the franchise, and while it is mildly enjoyable to watch at times, it also suffers from the law of diminishing returns. It’s set in 1973 in Los Angeles, and follows a mother and social worker named Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) who is handling the case of Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez), a poor Hispanic woman who is struggling to support her two young sons Tomas (Aiden Lewandowski) and Carlos (Oliver Alexander). When Anna discovers the two boys locked in Patricia’s closet with mysterious marks on their arms during a welfare check, she frees them and puts them into state care, believing that they were being abused.

Little does she know that Patricia was actually trying to protect them from the clutches of La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), a figure from Mexican folklore known as the Weeping Woman who latches herself onto children and tries to steal them to replace her own that she drowned in a fit of jealous rage back in the year 1673. Following a tragedy, La Llorona becomes attached to Anna’s own two kids, Chris (Roman Christou) and Sam (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), and she must enlist the help of Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), a former priest turned spirit medium, to help her break the curse on her family.

The performances are fine, and director Michael Chaves delivers some atmospheric set-pieces, which are heightened by the solid camerawork of cinematographer Michael Burgess. Both Chaves and Burgess are reprising these roles on The Conjuring 3, set to come out next summer. The biggest issue with The Curse of La Llorona is that it’s just not terribly original in either story or execution. Despite running for barely ninety minutes, the film takes too long in its buildup towards the fairly effective haunted house scares of its finale, and the screenplay is guilty of both over explaining things and feeling far too simplistic in its exploration of the central folklore that inspired it.

The story is heavily influenced by Mexican folk tales, with a lot of history and traditions behind it that could have been explored more in-depth, yet The Curse of La Llorona settles for being a fairly simple supernatural scarefest that relies more on jump scares than things that truly get under our skin. While the film does loosely connect itself to the larger Conjuring franchise, it also feels somewhat small and self-contained, more like an offshoot of the series rather than a proper piece of it. This is ultimately an okay but unspectacular horror film, that feels like a minor entry into this expanding series.

The Blu-ray also includes the three featurettes The Myth of La Llorona, Behind the Curse and The Making of a Movie Monster, as well as a selection of deleted and extended scenes, and a lengthy compilation of storyboards that reveal several unfinished sequences from the film.

The Curse of La Llorona is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 93 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: August 6th, 2019

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