Cast: Autumn Reeser, Danny Trejo, Antonio Cupo, Josh Zaharia
Director: Patricia Harris Seeley
Oh lord. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to start off this review with anything other than oh lord. We have our first real contender for worst movie of 2022 on our hands here. It seems as though the “La Llorona” has emerged as a popular figure in horror movies over the last few years with it even being included in the Conjuring universe in 2019. This may be a case of overexposure and everyone wanting their piece of the pie. The Legend of La Llorona contributes nothing to this lore and actively detracts from any intrigue or interest you may have in the character and the mystery. Not only that, but the dated effects, wooden acting, and weak story ensure that The Legend of La Llorona is not just one of the worst movies of the year, but may be one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen.
The film follows Carly (Reeser) and Andrew (Cupo) Candlewood, a family with a young son Danny (Nicolas Madrazo), who have gone on a vacation to Mexico to help get away from the grief of losing their daughter. When Carly and Danny start seeing strange visions of a woman coming out of the nearby river, they become on edge with Danny eventually being taken by this mysterious and evil woman. Now Carly and Andrew must work to understand why this woman has taken their child, get Danny back, and stop her from hurting any more families in the community. With a main antagonist like this that has been explored several times in film and is a well-known entity, this type of movie needs to do something either unique or excellent in order to stand out, but unfortunately neither of these are the case for this movie. First and foremost, this movie feels incredibly dated from the opening scene onwards. There are a lot of techniques used in this movie such as slow-motion or rapid cuts that make this movie feel like it doesn’t belong in this decade. I’m confident that if this movie came out 20 years ago it could have been more well-received, but since we’re in 2022 movies need to adjust to the times and find a way to stay relevant when they come out. I know this is a low-budget movie, but there’s still cheap ways that movies can do to appear better than they actually are. Speaking of that, I know this movie isn’t exactly star-studded, but to say the performances were lackluster is disrespectful to lackluster performances. The two parents are supposed to be involved in a dramatic and tumultuous relationship as they cope with their daughter’s death, however these two have no chemistry and their scenes feel very clunky. Cupo in particular doesn’t do a great job of expressing emotional range and has a hard time communicating the actual emotion his character is feeling. I believe some of this can be attributed to the script which has bizarre language choices like having Andrew say “what the frick” which sounds awkward coming from any functioning adult. I have to imagine the writers avoided cursing to try to keep this as a PG-13 movie, but when you’re already this far down the rabbit whole you might as well lean in and make the film as gory and violent as possible. The script’s weakness isn’t exclusively related to the dialogue, as the plot has several unnecessary storylines and moments that add nothing of value to the movie. The random involvement of the local cartel to serve as a secondary villain didn’t do anything for me and there could’ve been more focus on the family and their inner turmoil instead of leading us on with unnecessary misdirects. When it came down to the actual villain, this iteration of La Llorona is the worst thing to come out of Mexican waters since dysentery. This is supposed to be some ferocious creature that terrorizes the community and takes children from their family, but in this case she feels like a generic copy and paste villain that we’ve seen dozens of times before. It’s just a letdown to see a potentially frightening figure be reduced to sloppy CGI and a nonsense backstory. I do think the potential for a great movie centered around this character is possible, but when a movie like this takes no risks and decides to go with a safe and formulaic route, it reduces any potential that The Legend of La Llorona had down to nothing.
Overall, this movie feels like a student film and the quality reflects that. It’s almost like Danny Trejo rolled up to USC and agreed to feature in the first project that asked him to. I don’t know how much more money this movie could have used to fix its major issues, but it means my quest to watch a good La Llorona movie continues. You couldn’t pay me to watch this movie again and anyone who is on the fence about this would be better off spending their time on literally anything else. La Llorona might mean weeping woman, but I promise you the only ones crying will be the ones who choose watch the 98 minutes of the staggering level of incompetence found in The Legend of La Llorona.
Final Thoughts: Skip It