In Brief: The Conjuring Universe’s latest is a watch-watching 90-minute tromp through all-too-familiar horror territory.
The Curse of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring universe. For those not familiar with the series, it stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. In those two films they played true-life paranormal investigators who’ve wandered the world chasing demons harassing ordinary people.
The flick’s producers have spun other films off from there. The Nun and a soon-to-be-sequel, Annabelle, its sequel and another scheduled to come out in June of this year.
A third Conjuring is also in the works.
Now we have The Curse of La Llorona. It is a stand-alone movie but ties into the Conjuring universe via a reference to Annabelle. The priest from that film explains the curse of La Llorona to Linda Cardellini’s clueless social worker.
Here’s the — if you can call it that — plot. Cardillini (Green Book) plays Anna. Her meddling with a woman trying to protect her children from the cursed demon causes those children to be drowned.
That’s what La Llorona does. She drowns kids.
La Llorona’s curse began in Mexico the 1600s when her husband cheated on her. To get even she drowned their children. Regretting what she did, La Llorona spent the next few centuries as a ghost drowning other children hoping they’d replace hers.
Or some such mumbo-jumbo.
Anna’s meddling gets the curse passed on to her and her children. That so-called horror looks boringly like everything else done in the Conjuring series. So don’t expect anything fresh. By the way, the “boringly” comes with a capital B.
As bad as that is, what’s worse is how The Curse of La Llorona got made. It may be the product of the experienced Conjuring team but they turned the project over to beginners. Director Michael Chaves does his first major motion picture. His only other experience is creating and directing Nickelodeon’s Chase Champion mini-series in 2015.
The film’s writers are Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis whose only writing experience is to put pen to Five Feet Apart. That teen-romance-focused disease of the week flick is still in area theaters.
As just noted, the script — and Chaves’ film — looks exactly like its cousins. As Anna and her children deal with the ghostly demon, the camera slowly follows them through the house. First it’s from behind and then from in front. Doors open. Windows open. They bang, floors creak.
The characters whip open a door to a loud sound or bang and — of course — nothing is there. Then they turn around and — presto — there’s something. In this case, it’s a ready to pounce, white-faced La Llorona. Of course, she misses a lot and the pouncing never quite works out. If it did then you’d have a five-minute movie.
Actually, these films — and this one — are so awful, that a five-minute movie is not a bad idea.
Alas, The Curse of La Llorona gives you a watch-checking 90-minutes of death-dodging about the house. At the end of the formulaic 90-minutes, the expected conclusion is reached and credits roll. Predictably — and this one is as predictable as any horror movie you’ll ever see — you catch a glimpse of the ghostly La Llorona once in awhile. When you do, she’s not all that terrifying.
Neither is her movie.
What is terrifying about the whole thing is people shelling out large sums of money to see this piece of predictable crap. Worse than worse is the make-no-doubt-about-it sequel — or sequels — The Curse of La Llorona will produce.
Insert sarcasm here — can’t wait.
Director: Michael Chaves
Stars: Linda Cardellini, Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Marisol Ramirez, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola, Irene King
Rating: You’ve seen this movie so many times you could almost write it yourself. Nothing original. All that’s scary is the cost of the ticket to see it. Give if a Friday Flicks fright rating of 1 on the 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.