The sixth instalment in The Conjuring Universe was release this weekend in the UK. The Curse of La Llorona is centred around the Mexican legend of La Llorona, a boogieman female figure that steals children away.
Our protagonist is Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini). Anna’s husband was a police officer and he was murdered on duty, leaving Anna to take care of their two children. Despite having problems to balance her work and home life, she decides to investigate the disappearance of two boys. When she arrives at their house, Patricia – mother of the two kids – is hesitant to let her in, but when she does Anna realises something is not right and finds the children locked in a closet. The boys are taken to a shelter and are visited by La Llorona during the night. Anna receives a phone call and she drives, with her kids sleeping in the back of the car, to a nearby river where the two boys have been found drowned. Patricia is there too. She blames Anna for what happened and shouts that she tried to hide them from la Llorona.
Chris, Anna’s son, leaves her sister Sam in the car and tries to have a look at the scene but he encounters La Llorona, who goes after him and marks him. The next day Sam also encounters La Llorona and gets marked. When Anna visits Patricia to help the police get a confession she tells Anna that she is responsible for her children’s deaths, and she prayed La Llorona to take Anna’s children so she can get her two boys back. Anna also encounters La Llorona and gets the same mark. Anna decides to seek help from Father Perez – whom we know from the Anabelle spin-offs – and he tells her about his experiences with the supernatural. Getting the church involved is a lengthy process so the family goes after a former priest turned curandero, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), to help them.
They all drive back to the house and Rafael starts a ritual to get rid of the evil spirit that torments the family à la Conjuring style.
This movie is not the worst entry in The Conjuring universe. However, it’s also not one of the best ones. There were rumours that the script was reworked to fit into the franchise. The story is set in Los Angeles and it had more of an Insidious aesthetic than any other Conjuring spin-off. The fact that the story is not set in Mexico can be explained by budgetary reasons, but we have had plenty of Insidious and The Conjuring spin-offs set in L.A, so if you are going to make a movie about a Mexican folktale make it as Mexican as you can. Another misstep is that the main protagonists are supposed to be Latinx but they don’t speak Spanish and have zero knowledge of Latinx culture.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the film. Despite its flaws, the movie is a solid watch. It takes what mainstream audiences like about horror movies and rolls with it, and there is nothing wrong with that. Especially if you have an actress like Linda Cardellini who can drive the story forward with a great performance. Characters are sympathetic enough that you fear for their lives – shutout to the children, played by Roman Christou and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen. It is also worth mentioning that this is not your average “let’s get rid of the evil by the power of Christ” narrative. I can’t recall any major horror movie that delves into Shamanism and Santeria with the same respect as The Curse of La Llorona. Overall, the movie is what is being marketed: a decent horror film with a decent third act that works perfectly if you are looking to have fun and eat some popcorn.
If you like what the Conjuring universe has offered so far, check this one out.