The horror genre has been all over the place the last few years. Incredible films like Hereditary and TheVVitch have come out, but there’s also been some awful movies like The Bye Bye Man. One franchise has fallen on both sides: The Conjuring. While the two main series films are both pretty good, there’s also the The Nun, which was one of the worst movies of 2018.
The newest film in the franchise is The Curse of La Llorona, and it sadly joins The Nun as a truly terrible movie. It follows the story of a caseworker, Anna Garcia, as her family is attacked by La Llorona, a spirit based on Mexican folklore who kills children in an attempt to be reunited with her kids that she drowned in the 1600s.
Nothing makes sense, the whole movie is designed around just enough lazy storytelling to be considered a movie.
The worst part of the movie is the writing. The plot is decent enough to have room for an effective story with real scares, but the writing ruins it. It starts off extremely exposition-heavy, which immediately pulls the viewer out of the story. The dialogue over explains all the relationships between the characters instead of showing them naturally. Early on, it is mentioned that Anna Garcia has a dead husband who was a cop, and right after this is mentioned, the audience is shown a shot of her son pretending to be a cop and a close up shot of a picture of her husband in his uniform. It’s very overdone.
When it comes to the villain, La Llorona, they explain everything about her except for the confusing parts. She’s seen being able to teleport, so why does she walk around later? Nothing makes sense, the whole movie is designed around just enough lazy storytelling to be considered a movie mixed with ineffective scares.
Thanks to the poor writing, the movie just isn’t terrifying at all, which is sad coming from a franchise that claims to be in the horror genre. It falls into clichés that have been seen a million times: a person that disappears when a character looks away only to return for a weak jump scare. What makes all the jump scares worse is that the makeup looks too neat. There’s nothing scary about La Llorona, it’s just a woman with slightly gray skin, yellow eyes, and fake black tears running down her face. It doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done in a million other movies before.
Even though the core of the movie is awful, there are still some redeeming aspects. To start, the acting is actually pretty good. Linda Cardellini gives it her all as Anna Garcia. However, it is still strange that, as a white woman, Cardellini was cast as a woman named “Anna Garcia,” who’s the main character in a film about a ghost from Mexican folklore. It’s true that she did her best, but the casting remains feeling out of place.
Besides her, the child actors, Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, actually did decently. Out of the whole cast, they seemed to be able to build the most chemistry. On top of that, they genuinely seemed terrified by everything happening throughout the movie and I believed that they were really reacting to the situation.
Another well-done aspect of the film was the cinematography. While the majority of the imagery was cliched, the way the camera framed it all was interesting and compelling. The shots focused on the characters interacting with each other, were mostly average, but the establishing shots were really impressive. A lot of the long zooms and dutch angles effectively created an atmosphere that was lacking throughout the rest of the movie. A lot of the shots were also framed through reflections in water, which was visually interesting. This, however, was really the only thing that made the movie even a little bit frightening.
Overall, audiences would be better off not seeing this movie. While a few things were done well, things like poor writing and predictability leave the film with just too much weighing it down. Maybe after a couple more script rewrites and some better editing, the movie could have been salvaged, but in its current form, it’s just not good.
Fans of horror should stay away from this movie. Even fans of The Conjuring should avoid it. The Curse of La Llorona barely even ties into the rest of the series, and is easily skippable. After The Nun and now The Curse of La Llorona, audiences should pray that the upcoming Annabelle sequel is actually good. Or maybe it will just follow The Curse of La Llorona’s footsteps adding to an endless pile of garbage horror.