Boring. Uninspired. Dull. These are the first words that come to my head when I think of The Curse of La Llorona. Despite having seen the movie only a few days ago, I can barely remember large portions of it because of how uninspired and hollow the characters and their story are. It’s a shame, because as a huge fan of the Conjuring franchise, I wanted to have a fun time with Michael Chaves debut in the same.
The movie follows Anna (Linda Caddellini), an recently widowed social services worker who’s life is subsequently haunted by the titular weeping women, La Llorona. Even though the plot unfolds exactly like how you think it would, the performances are never awful. Caddellini does what she can as a worried mother fighting for the sake of her family but the plot never lets her flesh herself out more in an interesting way. The child actors also do their job. There was almost a moment where I felt myself caring for their struggle. Unfortunately, the film never builds on that feeling and by the time the terrifying events start ensuing I had to struggle to find a reason to watch.
The real issue is how underdeveloped the plot feels. There are some initial stakes and interesting situations set up- but then instead of letting those threads play out naturally everything just gets pushed to the periphery in favor of a generic series of jump scares. This movie has all the tell tale signs of a generic supernatural horror story- random noises, the camera suddenly “revealing” the threat, characters doing incredibly out of place things despite knowing the danger of everything, and magical solutions working or not working depending on what the plot necessitated. As such, nothing ever feels scary. Every scare is telegraphed from miles away.
Add on to this the feeling of coincidence- nothing ever feels like an authentic character decision and everything feels out of place. There’s this whole subplot with child abuse and misdirection but instead of doing something interesting with that and doing a nuanced commentary on how certain bodies are demarcated and judged without getting a fair shot to present their stories- everything is glossed over for a new scare. It makes every moment feel hollow and empty.
I would have been more okay with this if the scares were at least interesting or terrifying , but the special effects and actual scare reveals lack any meaningful buildup and failed to ever elicit any kind of real response from me. The only thing that separates this movie from the random horror movie you’d stumble on in the middle of the night on a streaming service is the higher production values. It helps the movie at least feel more refined, but its just like putting lipstick on a pig.
TLDR: The Curse of La Llorona is a disappointing story that squanders a lot of the potential of its source material. You should think of the film as a vehicle for cheap jump scares- elements like characters or the score almost feel like afterthoughts to the scare set-ups.
Final Rating: 3.8/10. As someone who even had fun with The Nun, the fact that I couldn’t find anything to latch on in this movie says a lot. Watch it if you feel a special connection to the myth and are okay with watching a bland enactment of the horror from the same.