The Curse of La Llorona Sept 13, 2019 15:42:14 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Sept 13, 2019 15:42:14 GMT -5
The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
Directed by: Michael Chaves
Directed by: Michael Chaves
Linda Cardellini struggles to keep her family safe in The Curse of La Llorona.
The Curse of La Llorona was *somewhat* worth sitting through, if nothing else, to see Linda Cardellini (Velma in the Scooby-Doo films) walk into a room and see her daughter watching the classic Scooby-Doo cartoon. Somewhat. Barely. Not really.
This is a ludicrous film on multiple levels, and the back-breaking straw for me with the supernatural genre, barring one that looks remotely distinctive from the pile of half-assed, interchangeable noise garbage that's been populating theaters for the entirety of this decade. For the last nine years, we've had awful-to-mediocre offerings like The Devil Inside, Mama, Oculus, Ouija, Amityville: The Awakening, and The Darkness grace theater-screens, and that's not even including long-running franchises such as Paranormal Activity. Nor does it account for this relentless downturn in quality from the Conjuring "universe" that began with Annabelle and has continued to manifest in the form of throwaway offerings such as The Nun and now The Curse of La Llorona. These films are starting to blur together for me, with desperately few, such as Hereditary, coming out and proving the genre is still ripe for some subversion. After The Curse of La Llorona, it's about time I stage a one-man selective sit-out for future films of the genre going forward. Something's gotta give.
The film follows Anna Tate-Garcia (Cardellini), a widow of an LAPD cop currently working as a caseworker for Child Protective Services, all while trying to raise two children (Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) of her own. One of her more colorful cases is Patricia (Patricia Velásquez), to whom she makes a house-call after Patricia has missed several updates. Upon entering her apartment, Anna takes note of an unsettled Patricia, who has littered her home with candles and charms while her children remain locked in a closet. She's trying to protect them from La Llorona.
La Llorona is famous Mexican folklore. The story goes that a woman was abandoned by her husband and forced to raise two sons by herself, but due to the grief and pain, she impulsively drowned both of her kids. Consequently, the spirit of the woman had to wander the world in search of new children to take as her own. Apparently it's not uncommon for Mexican parents to use the story of La Llorona as a scare-tactic to get children to behave.
Anna's efforts to save Patricia's children from her fail as the two boys are eventually found drowned in a river; Patricia claims La Llorona got a hold of her boys and killed them herself. Through the magic of vague screenwriting and foreseeable convention, La Llorona manages to latch herself onto Anna's family, terrorizing her and her two kids, prompting her to seek the guidance and advice of a priest (Tony Amendola, who you might recognize from Annabelle) and a spiritual healer (Raymond Cruz).
First-time director Michael Chaves and screenwriters Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis have tremendous material on their hands with the legend of La Llorona, and do they do the predictable. They squander the potential and mystery in favor of making this a jump-scare-driven slog through the worst cliches of the genre. As Anna and her children experience unseen forces interfering with their daily life and an increasingly sense of an uninvited presence, there's lives become entirely taken over by La Llorona. The first indication that this is an empty bastardization of a symbolically rich legend is the fact the lore itself is uprooted from its Latino roots and transplanted in the States, and in typical American fashion, La Llorona is characterized as a generic monster ala El Chupacabra as opposed to a guilt-ridden spirit. It's another creative decision that undercuts the film's entire focus.
Some of this might have been forgivable if the film was the least bit distinguishable from the aforementioned films of the genre, but The Curse of La Llorona is burdened by its own lack of grace. Most frustrating is the perpetual darkness that obscures several sequences visually. A bad movie is one thing; a bad movie that's hard to see is a whole other issue. If Chaves' picture can't draw you in on the basis of its lobotomized premise alone, it'll really turn you off when you realize that a good 25% of the film is handicapped by poor clarity.
I'm serious when I say this is the final straw for me with the supernatural film genre. These films become less and less intriguing every year, but old habits die hard, and I find myself sooner or later seeking them out. I'll save my time for ones that appear to do more than the bare-minimum with their bare-minimum budget. It's a bad sign when you start to envy those in the film as they're overtaken by a curse in the middle of a traumatic experience. At least that would give me something more compelling to discuss.
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Tony Amendola, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Marisol Ramirez. Directed by: Michael Chaves.