By ARIA SALESSI
From a famous Mexican myth to an addition to The Conjuring franchise, The Curse of La Llorona was released on April 19, 2019 and has made a total of $56 million over the weekend. It stars Linda Cardellini as Anna, Roman Christou as Todd, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen as Samantha, and Raymond Cruz as Rafael and follows Anna and her two kids Roman and Samantha who are being terrorized by the legendary ghost of La Llorona.
The moment I saw the trailer of the film, I wasn’t expecting much. It seemed like a couple of producers trying to make a cheesy film from an ancient myth with hopes of raking in some cash. The fact that the film was an addition to The Conjuring franchise gave me some hope that it would not be too bad. Unfortunately, it turned out exactly the opposite of what I had hoped for.
The myth of La Llorona involves a woman named Maria. One day, she found out her husband had been cheating on her, and in a fit of rage, drowned her two children. After she realized what she did, the guilt started eating away at her, and caused her to drown herself in the same lake where she killed her children. People have said to hear her crying, and that she can bring misfortune and even death. La Llorona kidnaps and drowns children at night, mistaking them for her own.
While I found the La Llorona myth interesting, the film had to waste a fascinating ancient myth and all its potential for an original story by making it a cheap jump-scare fest. People might think that a film is cluttered with jump-scares would be terrifying. However, The Curse of La Llorona is a prime example of how this is not true. Instead of inducing screams, as one might have expected, this film’s jump-scares were only funny because they were so predictable and similar to each other. Each of them involved La Llorona randomly appearing from the darkness, grabbing a character’s arm and shrieking in their face. This might be scary the first time, but once it gets repeated over and over again, it becomes amusing.
Although most of the film’s jump scares were similar to each other, there were two that felt like a breath of fresh air. One of them involved Samantha opening her transparent umbrella to find La Llorona standing in front of it, but once she closed it, La Llorona would disappear. Another one involved a scene when La Llorona was behind the window curtains. Her dress matched the curtains which I thought was interesting, even though it was obvious she was still going to pop out behind them.
Jump scares are an effective tool in horror films, especially in The Conjuring franchise, where they have been used effectively and with great thought. Unfortunately, director Michael Chaves decided to become lazy and instead create lackluster and unoriginal scares.
One major problem the film had was showing close-ups of La Llorona too much, especially of her face. The pale face with the yellow eyes looked like a knock-off of The Nun, except La Llorona always had black tears rolling down her eyes. Nothing about her appearance was frightening. If the demonic antagonist of a horror film isn’t frightening, then there’s not much else that can be scary besides having to watch the film until it ends.
The only positive aspect of the film was the acting, mainly from Cardellini. She truly made her character seem genuinely terrified throughout the film with her facial expressions and screams.
The Curse of La Llorona is a perfect example of a wasted opportunity for a truly good horror film that instead relies on shrieks and bad jump scares. It is an insult to The Conjuring franchise by claiming to be a part of it. It is an insult to every movie within the franchise, by being an incomparably inferior installment to the rest of the franchise, that is nothing more than a failure and generic interpretation of a famous folk tale.