Cast: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Raymond Cruz
Director: Michael Chaves
Oh Linda Cardellini, you’re so much better than this movie. I’m not sure what Cardellini’s reasoning for being in this movie is, but I’m just confused as to why she would choose to be in a movie like this. It’s quite a drop off to go from a supporting role in last year’s Best Picture winner to leading a generic extension of The Conjuring universe. An interesting presence lost on in poor execution, The Curse of La Llorona is yet another example of how this universe can’t seem to find its rhythm outside of the main films and that maybe we need to see James Wan back as a director instead of a producer.
The film follows Anne Tate-Garcia (Cardellini), a social worker who investigates the well-being of a family that claims they are being hunted by La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), a mythical woman from Mexican culture who wanders the earth looking for children that she can drown. When La Llorona’s curse shifts over to Anne’s family, Anne must protect her children at all costs regardless of the obstacles that La Llorona presents her with. Obviously when dealing with a horror movie, especially one involved in The Conjuring universe, at the very least you would expect the film to be somewhat scary. Unfortunately, The Curse of La Llorona uses the same recycled horror formula that any generic horror movie uses to turn a cheap movie into a guaranteed money-maker. If this was an offshoot movie by a smaller studio or director, I would give it a pass since sometimes studios make movies exclusively for the profit, but when you’ve established yourself as able to make some of the best horror movies of the decade, anything less than that is awfully disappointing. The backstory around this character is actually pretty interesting and is one that could theoretically work within the context of this universe, but the lack of a coherent story or any original ideas undermine a solid foundation. Regarding the acting, Cardellini is a highly-acclaimed talent in both the worlds of television and film, and in a perfect scenario, she would’ve elevated this film into one of the best in the series. She has a few scenes where she shows genuine fear and distress, but any exposition scenes with her don’t really sell it for me. She’s been much better in movies like Green Book where we actually care about her character, but Cardellini wasn’t given a whole lot to work with so I think we can give her a pass on this one. The real standout for me was Cruz, who was able to successfully infuse a level of humor into a film that was sorely missing any sort of relatable content. Cruz recognizes the severity of the situation based on his experiences in the Annabelle films, but also understands how to make the film enjoyable to audiences. I really enjoyed watching Cruz in Breaking Bad for different reasons, but seeing his talent onscreen was a pleasant addition to this movie.
Overall, for a directorial debut for Chaves, this could’ve been significantly worse. Do I trust Chaves to take the reins of future Conjuring movies? Maybe not. Looking at this movie in context, The Curse of La Llorona is better than last year’s The Nun, but still shows the this film franchise is in serious need of a tuneup in the next few films. Looking at the next films coming up in this universe’s lineup, there is absolutely room to have hope as the potential is there to release some truly great horror movies in the next few years. Only time will tell if the people responsible for these movies make the necessary adjustments and create something truly spectacular.
Overall Score: 4/10