The Curse Of La Llorona (2019)

The curse of la llorona poster.jpgDirector: Michael Chaves
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Oliver Alexander, Aiden Lewandowski

Los Angeles, 1973. A social worker named Anna (Linda Cardellini) investigates the disappearance of a woman's two children, only to discover she has them locked behind a door. Ignoring the mothers warnings, she takes the children to child services, only for them to be later found drowned. They were the victims of La Llorona, a deadly spirit who preys on children, and has her sights now set on Anna's own kids.

The directorial debut of Michael Chavez happily slots into place as a corner of The Conjuring Universe, but there's little of its own identity evident within. It ends up feeling interchangeable from the most bog-standard of horror flicks, as tension and atmosphere are disregarded for cheap jump scares. Interesting moments of genuine creepiness do occur, and could serve as the building block for an onslaught of unnerving tension, but that's thrown aside for a sudden burst of loud noises.

A spectre haunted by loss that's on a futile quest to get her long deceased children back, the eponymous La Llorona has the makings of an interesting antagonist in theory. When it comes to the execution, there's little actually there. The figure is interchangeable from any other ghoul which skulks around dark corners of the room, not so much going bump as going Bang in the night. The most disappointing aspect lies in the look of the figure. The Nun had Bonnie Aarons' creepy presence, Annabelle had a design which sticks in your mind. Between the white dress, dirty hands, and oozing black eyes, La Llorona is too generic to inspire fear, terror, or even mild discomfort.

While it may have a manageable runtime of 93 minutes, the film manages to drag on, somehow feeling longer than the 181 minute long Avengers: Endgame. It doesn't help that the finale runs for longer than necessary, not helped by a regular supply of frustrating character decisions. To their credit, Linda Cardellini is engaging in the lead role of a widower trying to hold her family together, doing the best with what little she's given. Raymond Cruz' performance seems to be coming from an entirely different film, but is easily the most interesting aspect above all else.

The Curse of La Llorona is a piece of horror more likely to elicit yawns than frights. From the story to the scares, and especially the titular figure, there's little worth praising here.

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