The Curse of La Llorona - Review : DJ MACK

Based on the Mexican folklore also known as The Weeping Woman (who was condemened to wander for all eternity searching for the bodies of her two children she murdered by drowning out of grief and anger), The Curse of La Llorona marks Michael Chaves' feature length directorial debut before stepping up as The Conjuring 3's director next year. While concealed for the majority of the film's marketing campaign, it becomes transparent that La Llorona slots into the horror saga, further expanding the Avengers of the horror world. Where the filmmakers right to keep this one a secret, or should they have shouted loud and proud about a new high in their series?
Don't be fooled by the spate of impressive genre entities as of late, as for every Hereditary and A Quiet Place, there is a Pet Semetary and The Nun inflicting mindless jump scares and derivative tropes upon its audience. Unfortunately for everyone involved, The Curse of La Llorona falls into the latter camp: a pitifully ineffective, numbingly dull effort that registers as The Conjuring Universe's poorest showing to date - and that's including The Nun! Michael Chaves' reliance on genre tropes and conventions squanders a promising premise entirely, with barely a single, weighty scare found within the mericifully short 93 minute runtime. From open to close, La Llorona appears content on delivering cheap tricks and bland horror: protracted periods of silence followed by a LOUD SOUND does not a horror film make and the laziness coursing through this insipid feature is staggering, with a complete lack of craft demonstrated. Embarrassingly unoriginal, La Llorona achieves nothing we haven't seen countless times before and its repetitive, wearisome shtick is wearing dangerously thin.
Chaves does face an impossible task though: making a competent film out of that abysmal script. Ignoring promising thematic beats in favour of something much more flavourless, the incomprehensible plot riddled with flabbergasting character decisions and complete lapses of logic tests your patience as the seconds pass by; by the time one character puts the entire family in harms way and clears a path for the contrived third act, they deserve everything that's coming to them. Perhaps it would be more forgiveable if we felt any form of connection to the family but they are flatly-written, with little to differentiate them from previous characters in similarly haunted situations. Linda Cardellini, frankly, deserves more. When she's given the chance to do more than scream and run after her children, she lands on some impressive moments that capitalise on her range as an actress; disappointingly though, those moments are very few and very far between. Besides Cardellini, the film's only other salvation is composer Joseph Bishara; his atmospheric composition, although not effectively used in the film, drowned out by an overwhelming soundscape, is a chilling piece that swells with dread.
The Curse of La Llorona is an unscary, crushingly dull entry into a series which has fallen into a rutt of bad instalments it must escape from before irreperable damage is caused. It's obvious to see why the filmmakers attempted to distance itself from the wider universe and would have been in a stronger position to cut those tenuous ties entirely and present it as an original idea - or as an original idea as a film so shoddily constructed from the tropes used in superior genre entities can be. La Llorona is really bad, and you know that when you're rooting for the titular curse-bearer to teach the haunted a lesson. Summary: The Curse of La Llorona is 93 painfully dull and shockingly incompetent minutes of your life that you'll never get back - that's worse than any evil spirit could inflict.