La Llarona cursed by mediocre concept

Isabel Taylor, Staff Writer

Director Michael Chaves’ first feature-length horror film, The Curse of La Llorona, implements a Latin folk tale into a not-so-original movie plot, starring Linda Cardellini as Anna Cate-Garcia, a case worker with Child Protective Services and widowed mother of two boys.

One of her cases, Patricia, misses check-ins and appointments, which leads Garcia to make a visit to the woman’s house where she resides with her sons. The apartment is covered with charms and candles, not to mention she locks her kids in a closet covered in drawings of eyes. Garcia removes the children from the home into a shelter which Patricia detests, saying “she” will get them. Hours later, Patricia’s two boys are found drowned in a river near the shelter they were staying at.

The film takes place in 1970’s Los Angeles, following Garcia as she tries to protect her own children for whom the evil spirit La Llorona, or “The Weeping Woman” haunts after Patricia’s children die. The name belongs to a Latin American folk tale. As not many horror movies focus around Latin tales, this brings an originality to the film, yet fails to create a truly scary horror movie with the use of this sacred folklore tale. Making a jump-scare monster movie out of this story didn’t portray the tale as well as a thriller or milder genre of horror films. If Chaves had told this tale with a thriller type of approach, I believe this movie would have been much more successful.

The story leads viewers into the universe of “The Conjuring” yet lacked scares throughout the film. The jump scares are predictable and are lured into them easily. The plot feels mild, as if it were a cake without any frosting. The underscore done by cinematographer Michael Burgess set the eerie atmosphere of the movie, along with the design which Chaves did execute efficiently. The setting of a scary movie was there, but the script lacked depth and strong character development. The general aura of La Llorona was cool but nothing stood out for me to think this was a scary movie.

The over-used horror formula in which follows most “Conjuring” type films creates an appeal for the audience for it is such a fan favorite, but it made the movie dull and predictable. I rate the movie a 3 out of 5 stars because La Llorona had potential to be a great movie if it had taken a different style approach along with a better developed script. The strong cast of actors and the overall aesthetic design of the film saved this movie from complete failure.