I’ve said it before, The Conjuring is my all time favourite scary movie. However, since the success of that first movie, there have been a number of spin off movies, in an bid to build what’s now known as the ‘Conjuring Universe’. These movies have all varied in quality, ranging from the not too bad (Annabelle Creation) to the downright awful (The Nun). With a third Annabelle movie due out this year, not to mention another Conjuring sequel and other planned universe movies such as The Crooked Man, there’s no sign of them stopping anytime soon.
Which brings us to The Curse of La Llorona, the latest entry to the universe and one which is based on Mexican folklore. La Llorona, also known as “The Weeping Woman”, is the ghost of a woman who drowned her children and now cries while looking for them in the river. Nowadays, children are told to be well behaved and respectful of their elders, otherwise La Llorona will come and take them away.
This movie wasn’t originally billed as being part of the Conjuring universe, and featured a pretty dull first trailer. However, a subsequent trailer featured a familiar face from the Annabelle movies in the form of Father Perez (Tony Amendola), and a link to the Conjuring universe was later confirmed, despite his presence in this movie being somewhat brief.
We’re in Los Angeles, 1976. Anna (Linda Cardellini) is a widow with two young kids and working in social services. She still mourns the death of her police officer husband while trying to keep her family together and maintain her demanding job. That job involves dealing with some difficult cases involving children and one such case takes her to the Alvarez home. The mother appears to have lost her mind, while her children are locked in a cupboard that has strange markings on the door. As the title of the movie suggests, there is a curse at play and it’s not long before that curse, and the horror that brings with it, is passed onto Anna and her children.
Like The Nun, La Llorona is essentially just a woman with scary face makeup who shrieks at people every so often and tries to make you jump. But thankfully, there’s a little more to La Llorona than just that. Some slow, effective reveals provide some pretty decent chills and scares, making this a much more solid and enjoyable movie as she begins to terrorise the children before eventually invading their home and going full on evil.
After Father Perez brings us all up to speed on the backstory of La Llorona, and a flashback to 1763 gives us a visual and graphic representation, the family are referred to an ex priest who is better suited in helping them shake off the curse. He comes to their home in order to prepare for the arrival, and hopefully the removal of, La Llorona. It all feels very formulaic, similar to countless movies we’ve seen before, such as Poltergeist.
The Curse of La Llorona is pretty corny at times, attempting to inject humour which doesn’t always seem to work. However, I did like it. It’s certainly a huge step up from last year’s disappointing Nun movie and featured enough intensity and scares in its short 93 minute runtime to make it enjoyable enough.