Film Review – ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ (2019)

Once again, James Wan and his team hit hard with another instalment of horror. They have subtly connected ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ to ‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Annabelle’ franchise. ‘The Nun,’ another relative of these films may have been poorly received by the fans and the critics, despite grossing $365,550,119 worldwide, but if these films can achieve that sum, Wan and his team might as well keep milking these films for everything they can get. ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ is shot on a $9,000,000 budget compared to ‘The Nun’s’ $22,000,000 budget. However everyone knows, it’s the quality of filmmaking that counts regardless of budget. The quality of filmmaking in ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ is superb, sinister and scintillating.

Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker, and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. A curse is passed on and La Llorona, the weeping woman that happens to be a Mexican folktale dating from 1673, begins to traumatise, stalk and scare two children played brilliantly by Roman Christou (Chris) and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen (Samantha). Their mother (Anna) played flawlessly by Linda Cardellini has now grasped a true meaty and leading role compared to her supporting, but noticeable roles in ‘Daddy’s Home’ and ‘Avenger’s Endgame’ role playing ‘Hawkeye’s wife. She is our heroine and protagonist that must do what mother’s do: To protect her children at all costs, even if it means doing unorthodox things that will get social services to judge her; a social worker of all people being judged by her colleagues. Yes! Even people who go by the book have to bend the rules too.

As the story unravels, we understand the story, the motives and how La Llorona became an evil spectre. ‘Annabelle’s’ Father Perez played by Tony Amendola is the recurring character that connects these films. His encounter with Annabelle and now the new victims of La Llorona, force him to tell the truth about her in order to save Anna, Chris and Samantha’s life. We hear from him that La Llorona had two young boys that she loved and then drowned to death due to a jealous outrage of her adulterous husband. The revenge on her husband to kill their children set off severe trauma, only to result in killing drowning herself too. Now, the ghost of La Llorona hunts for any vulnerable child to replace her two boys. That means leaving hand bruised marks, stalking and eventually consuming them to their death.

It will be jumpy. The tension is intense and at any time La Llorona will leap out from nowhere and scare the audience and the two lead children like ‘The Woman in Black,’ Samara in ‘The Ring’ and Kayako in ‘The Grudge’ all combined. Anna will have to find help and the suggestion for help from Father Perez is an excellent one. No better than Rafael Olivera (Raymond Cruz) better known as Tuco from ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul.’ Cruz is an interesting choice as he steps out of his stereotype of the drug dealing gangster. Here he embraces an opportunity to take on something different which is to play a Hispanic former priest turned witch doctor/demonologist. Will the disillusioned ex-priest and the mysticism he practices keep evil at bay? How will the fringes of fear and faith collide? By all means, watch the film if you’re a fan of ‘The Conjuring’, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘The Nun.’ It’s linked well with these films and the guarantees of jumpy scares and psychological horror are all intact. A great addition to the franchise!

Aly Lalji | [rating=4]

Horror, Mystery | USA, 2019 | 15 | 3rd May 2019 (UK) | Warner Bros. Pictures | Dir.Michael Chaves | Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz, Tony Amendola