The latest entry in the growing “Conjuring” franchise, “The Curse of La Llorona,” directed by Michael Chaves, proves that spin-off films of this universe simply try to sell themselves off franchise fame, rather than quality of content.
The film follows widowed mother Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) and her two children, Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), who find themselves tormented by a historical demon named “La Llorona” (Marisol Ramirez), or “The Wailing Lady.” The family seeks help from the church to break the curse. Save for the demon’s unique name and like so many other imitators of “The Exorcist” or “The Conjuring,” the film follows a predictable, generic plot. “The Curse of La Llorona” is a tired, boring film that doesn’t even hide that it has nothing to offer to the horror movie industry.
The film’s scares are cheap and completely unearned. Every other scene begins with a door on the opposite side of the house creaking open, followed by five minutes of a character walking through a hallway and ending with La Llorona jumping out at them. This cookie-cutter method of putting scenes together is lazy and becomes more dull with each repeat.
Though “The Curse of La Llorona” claims to be connected to the widely successful “The Conjuring” universe, its connections inevitably feel forced. The movie’s relation to the franchise comes from the hardly relevant Father Perez’s (Tony Amendola) relationship with the famed Annabelle doll of the eponymous 2014 film. Apart from this connection to the main franchise, the film makes no other efforts to integrate with the “Conjuring” universe. Other “Conjuring” films, such as “The Nun” or “Annabelle,” might have been poor, but at least their premises contributed to the franchise’s universe with their characters and storylines. They helped expand and strengthen the world. “La Llorona” however, has no reason to exist.
Down to its central demon, “La Llorona” is incredibly lackluster. While “The Conjuring” universe is haunted by infamous and interesting monsters, such as Annabelle, the Nun or even the Crooked Man, the generic and uncompelling La Llorona pales in comparison to their particular, haunting personalities.
The film’s one redeeming quality is Cardellini’s performance as the familiar matriarch. It’s clear that she tried to carry this film and make its stale dialogue worthwhile. The rest of the actors felt bland and uncharismatic. This, unfortunately, is true for Raymond Cruz’s unorthodox ex-priest Rafael Olvera, who attempts to help the Garcia family. He never expresses emotions like fear, surprise or happiness, even when the film situationally asks of him to do so. This was incredibly disappointing, as he was one of the more intriguing draws of the film.
“The Curse of La Llorona” is sloppily put together, with an overuse of jumpscares, an uninteresting villain and boring dialogue. The film doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than to use “The Conjuring” name to make a few bucks at the box office. If you’re interested in seeing a horror movie, you’re better off spending your money on more competent 2019 releases, such as Jordan Peele’s “Us” or the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary.”