You know, when you watch enough of these things you can actually appreciate what they are TRYING to do sometimes…
While The Curse of La Llorona will hardly go down as a modern classic but it’s got all the right elements of a decent little spook filled scream fest, it just maybe needed to measure out it’s ingredient’s a little bit better.
La Llorona aka The Weeping Woman. A horrifying apparition, caught in limbo trapped in a terrible fate that was sealed by her own hand so many years ago as the mere mention of her name has struck terror around the world for generations. In life, she drowned her children in a jealous rage, throwing herself in the churning river after them as she wept in pain. Now her tears are eternal and they are incredibly lethal, and those who hear her death cry in the night are doomed to follow the same fate as her children, as she preys on them, creeping in the shadows, terribly desperate to replace her own. In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night—and the children. 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. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.
Please make no mistake, this isn’t a GOOD film by any stretch of the imagination but The Curse of La Llorona actually has the ingredients of a fun horror flick, it just is an uneven mixture of elements.
There’s almost a little too much style in this film, director Michael Chaves makes his feature debut and actually applies a very strong visual style to the film that crafts a dirty and creepy vibe managing to underpin the entire film. It’s not something with a huge budget, but it makes solid use of what it has at its disposal. The use of darkness and shadow could have been toned down a little bit and a lot of different camera angles make parts of the movie come off like he is trying TOO hard, but I’d rather that then a visually lazy film.
The script from Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis follows the horror movie playbook just a little too much and it makes for an experience that while most effective, ends up being predictable. You know where the jump scares will be you, you know where the jokes to cut the tension will be and while it never cuts down on the fun it takes you out of the experience and you never get lost in the story. This script actually needed a little more exposition to let it breathe and get us emotionally invested in the ride, instead we just never got to buy the stakes that we’re in play. It’s not ineffective, but it’s so rushed that it dampens a lot of the scares.
Linda Cardellini is quite simply working her ass off here on this one and she’s fine as an impassioned mother trying to protect her kids from the scary things in the world but she simply doesn’t have enough material to work with as her character’s situation is kind of forced on her and she never got a chance to develop the necessary emotions. There’s a few other familiar character faces in the film with the likes of Raymond Cruz and Patricia Velasquez but this movie is really about getting to the scares and big set pieces in the narrative. There’s nothing bad about it, but it needed some more meat on its bones.
Ultimately, The Curse of La Llorona is a pretty basic horror flick. It hits some pretty minimal buttons, but it hits them well, it just needed a little more meat and substance to it all for us to be able to enjoy what it’s trying to do just a little bit more.