Anna Garcia is recently widowed and barely keeping it together with a couple kids at home and a stressful job as a caseworker. It also doesn’t help when she gets totally cursed by an aggrieved mother who blames her for the death of her children. Can she get rid of that spooky scary curse before it’s too late? Find out in… The Curse of La Llorona.
How?! Anna Garcia is having a tough go of it. Her husband was recently killed in the line of duty, she’s raising a couple of kids solo, and her job as a caseworker is pretty stressful to boot. It gets even more stressful when she visits one of her cases and finds the woman’s children locked in a closet and the mother claiming that she’s protecting them from evil. Spooky. But she ain’t buying it and gets those kids under protective care… or does she? Because later that night they are found drowned and the mother blames (and goes ahead and curses) Anna for their deaths. Soon Anna’s own children are seeing a spoooooooky ghost of a weeping lady who wants to hug them really really hard… until they die. Everywhere they look they are seeing (and feeling the burning touch) of this ghost lady and they’re like “get out of here, ghost lady.” Recruiting an exorcist that specializes in La Llorona (as this spooky ghost is known) they prepare for a final showdown. In the process La Llorona is all like “gimme dem kids” and they are all like “no” except the exorcist who is kinda like “sure, but only because it’s a trap.” In the end they do battle with the demon and using her own necklace charm against her they are able to totally own that ghost and everyone lives happily ever after. THE END… or is it? It is. Big Question: I personally would love to know how much was added or changed to fit this in the Conjuring Universe.
Why?! Lots of motivations here, besides the main characters who mostly just don’t want to die. La Llorona herself killed her children because her husband had an affair and left her. Thus she is cursed for all eternity to wander the earth crying and searching for her children. So she just wants her kids… awwww. As for Patricia, it’s a pretty straight forward case of her blaming Anna for the death of her children. So then she curses her right back. Like a psychopath she has no remorse for this until near the end of the film… like come on… you cursed her innocent children to die.
Who?! This could be an interesting addition to the Who repertoire in noting that Marisol Ramirez played our movie monster La Llorona in this film. Sometimes this can be a great boon for an actor, so perhaps when we’re watching La Llorona X in 25 years we’ll be like “Marisol Ramirez is really why I keep coming back.”
What?! Again, somewhat horror specific, but a movie monster also often has some sort of object that is its weakness. Dracula 2000 helpfully explained why draculas don’t like sun (he was Judas hung at sunrise) and why he drinks blood (he was Judas and Jesus stuff or whatever). Here La Llorona can’t cross seed from the Fire Tree (the tree that witnessed her kill her children) and is ultimately killed (?) when she is stabbed with a cross made from the tree. If only there would be twelve of these films so we can understand where her power to control electricity comes from (introduced in the fourth installment).
Where?! Really nice California and Los Angeles specific setting. Works well with the actual La Llorona legend and would have been a nice one for a map considering how sneaky important it is. Only critique is that it rains far to much in the film for it to actually be LA.
When?! The best we get is a “1973” intertitle at the beginning of the film and the fact that school is in session and no holidays in sight. So Fall or Spring probably. Still, intertitle is good and an official period setting is enough to scratch out a B. That being said, I think this film might be the least effort ever taken to make a film look like it’s set in the 70’s.
Having just watched Countdown (and objectively more ramshackle production than this one) I can’t believe I’m going to say this but… this might be worse. It is not scary and has terrible monster design… which are two of the most important aspects of a horror film. So a failure on those two things is not a good look. It also is so shoehorned into the Conjuring Universe that they may as well have had an intertitle telling the audience “Somewhere in the Conjuring Universe.” Even the 1970’s setting seems like a complete afterthought. All that being said I did like the general look and feel of the film and so it wasn’t like it felt silly like Countdown or Slender Man or The Bye Bye Man. So a generally pleasant watch. Just surprisingly bad. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I got spooky scared by La Llorona which tried to steal my two children. But I was like “No, you can’t have them you spooky ghost!” … Let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – Y’all know I like the Conjuring Universe. Kind of no matter what they do honestly. I like the idea of a connected spooky universe where hauntings are real. While the spin-offs seem to be hit-or-miss, I still ended up liking The Nun. So what the heck, I might have liked this, who knows? What were my expectations? I’m just hoping it gives an interesting ghost backstory. It is always nice when you can imagine the demon coming back and teaming up with other demons (like in The Conjuring 2) to make this extra spooky.
The Good – I thought the team up of the main character as a case worker and the ex-priest operating with the more mystical American legend worked quite well. Thinking about it, it is kind of a perfect team to handle Central/South American hauntings (whereas the Conjuring guys seemed to operate in the Northeast US / Europe style haunting). I’m sure this is the intention, and I kind of hope they follow through with that idea because it is fun. I’m also glad they didn’t give Linda Cardellini a love interest, it works quite well with her as a single mother. I also liked that they had the ghost attach itself to the family. Nicely counter to The Conjuring where the ghost explicitly haunted the house.
The Bad – The film is a mess. There seemed to be an inkling of a morality tale in the La Llorona legend, and they introduce it briefly, but then abandon that quickly. The monster design is terrible. Not scary, and not interesting. A boring backstory for the ghost, which is all you really care about with The Conjuring in the first place. Pretty standard story with The Conjuring spin-offs: too much time spent setting everything up, and not enough actually giving effective scares.
The BMT – I would watch a bad Conjuring film every year if they want to give it to me. I love the extended Conjuring universe. It is a very cool idea, and even when it flops (like this one) you still get one or two cool nuggets that could be interesting in a future movie. I can’t wait for The Conjuring 3, good or bad. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. Without that interesting backstory for La Llorona the tension leaks out of the story. You want that backstory because it gives that dramatic tension, that maybe the audience will be able to figure out the key to La Llorona’s weakness that the main characters don’t have the information to figure out, and then finally do right at the end. Give me some of that! Instead it was a whole lotta nothing.
Roast-radamus – A very quick Setting as a Character (Where?) with Los Angeles playing a dual role. First, with a large Mexican population, it serves as a way for La Llorona to enter the US market. And second, I personally think La Llorona’s connection to water is meant as a comment on the city in the desert a la Chinatown. The eeriness of seeing storms in the desert I think is intentional. While a period piece, there isn’t a holiday for a When call is unlikely. I’ll give a minor MacGuffin (Why?) for Cardellini’s two children as the only thing La Llorona wants. And it’ll enter into the Live discussion for 2019 films, but I don’t think it’ll make it.
StreetCreditReport.com – La Llorona was already notable for bringing in the least money for any of the wildly successful Conjuring films. Otherwise I can’t really find it on the few lists that exist so far. I don’t think it’ll get any razzie nods as it isn’t a high profile target. I guess it could end up being the worst Conjuring Universe film ever when all is said and done, but who knows, the Conjuring Universe could last forever!
You Just Got Schooled – Having watched most of The Conjuring films (and Annabelle preventing us from watching that particular offshoot immediately) I decided that it was time to really do some homework. Up until a few years ago we tended to ignore homework, so looking through I quickly found a BMT film, The Haunting (1999), where I had never watched the original (and it was about a spooooooky ghost as well, convenient). Watching the original 1963 The Haunting, which Spielberg called the scariest film ever made, … well it wasn’t scary, but it was interesting and a pretty cool precursor to The Conjuring. The idea of a house just being evil is something the likes of Stephen King tend to use as well, most famously in The Shining. And the cast of characters (including Russ Tamblyn of West Side Story fame) is also well put together. Despite predating modern horror in many respects, it is a worthwhile watch as so many haunted house films seem to draw on the ideas put forth in The Haunting specifically. I’m thinking that 2020 will be a BMT Projects year, and one nice project would be to watch all of the homework I’ve put off before, so buckle up for more tangentially related You Just Got Schooled sections in the future. A- for The Haunting, probably not above average for quintessential horror from the 60s, but still really good.