The Curse of La Llorona Preview

Rod sets up behind a large plant with some pretty snazzy spy tech. Everyone probably assumes that the badass private eye is just a pretty face, but it’s the 21st century and he’s now a technological wizard too. So far he hasn’t gotten anything particularly incriminating against Jamie and Patrick. It’s almost been three weeks and all he’s seen them shoot is several hundred takes of Jamie running down an alley. “But what do I know,” he thinks, as he levels the camera on Jamie.

Jamie gets the sense that someone’s watching him, but when he turns his head nobody’s there… how strange. He shakes his head and goes back to watching the latest set of dailies from 4Rich’r 4Poe’r: Dimension: Time. Patrick walks in carrying a plate of croissants and joins him. The cast is dope, the script is bomb, and the French Riviera is beautiful this time of year, but they both feel like something is missing. Helicopter cruise ships? No they already got those… a sixth bad guy? Perhaps, but everyone knows once you get past five antagonists it’s really diminishing returns at that point. Again the hairs raise on Jamie’s neck and he’s now certain that someone is watching him. He ain’t afraid of no ghosts and with a signal to Patrick they backflip their way off the couch and surprise the spy with their patented Twin Chop. “Rod?” Patrick asks, surprised to see their go-to private eye splayed on the ground. Embarrassed, Rod explains the situation. Jamie and Patrick stare stormily at him and tell him to go back and tell Adam three things: 1. Double their salary. 2. They now get final edit. 3. The bad guy is now a ghost. Rod stares at them in horror. That’s right! We’re hitting up one of our favorite horror franchises (seriously) with the latest entry in The Conjuring Universe. The Curse of La Llorona is only tangentially related to Annabelle, but that’s enough to get our butts in the seats… that and some not very good reviews. Let’s go!

The Curse of La Llorona (2019) – BMeTric: 48.1; Notability: 13 

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TheCurseofLaLloronaIMDb_RV

(Dropped like a stone after early positive reviews presumably from die-hards. Mid-5s is about right for a bad horror film, so I expect nothing less than a disappointingly banal film in the end)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Perhaps the film’s most grievous sin is that it isn’t very scary. … [I] wonder if part of the reason the Garcia family lacked cultural ties was an attempt to appeal to all U.S. Latinos, but in losing that cultural specificity, I lost the connection to what makes our ghost stories “ours.” While it was fun to watch a big budget horror movie finally play in the fertile grounds of Latinx superstitions, I wish we had a better reason to break out our sage.

(Hmmmmm, that criticism actually makes a ton of sense. La Llorona is very specifically Mexican so mixing cultures does seem to kind of water that down.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALhy6XTpMlk/

(I think on the one hand the trailer is good because it doesn’t give away much and doesn’t give away a lot of the scares presumably since it focuses on the first time they meet Mrs. Llorona. On the other hand it doesn’t seem scary at all, and the monster design looks lame. So that isn’t good.)

Directors – Michael Chaves – (BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Notes: A young director who was tapped for this and also, now, Conjuring 3. He did a few shorts, including a Billy Eilish music video, so perhaps that’s what convinced the producers.)

Writers – Mikki Daughtry (written by) – (Known For: Five Feet Apart; BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Notes: Not much about her, although I found the 2013 Blacklist where her and Iaconis has a screenplay entitled “Elsewhere”.)

Tobias Iaconis (written by) – (Known For: Five Feet Apart; BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Notes: It seems like Mikki Daughtry and him have been a writing team since 2013, so it is extremely likely they have had their fingers in tons of scripts over the years without credit. Prior to that pair up though he managed a writing credit on Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia.)

Actors – Linda Cardellini – (Known For: Avengers: Endgame; Green Book; A Simple Favour; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Brokeback Mountain; Legally Blonde; The Founder; Kill the Irishman; Super; The Lazarus Project; Welcome to Me; Return; Future BMT: Scooby-Doo; Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Strangeland; Good Burger; Daddy’s Home 2; Daddy’s Home; Dead Man on Campus; Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; American Gun; BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Hunter Killer; Notes: The star of Freaks and Geeks, she’s managed a very long Hollywood career mostly in comedy.)

Raymond Cruz – (Known For: The Rock; Training Day; Clear and Present Danger; Alien Resurrection; Under Siege; Bound by Honor; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; Broken Arrow; Havoc; The Substitute; Maid to Order; Dead Again; Future BMT: Collateral Damage; Operation Dumbo Drop; Man Trouble; Out for Justice; Up Close & Personal; BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Notes: He was Tuco in the early seasons of Breaking Bad. A consistent character actor it seems.)

Patricia Velasquez – (Known For: The Mummy; The Mummy Returns; Committed; Future BMT: Beowulf; Turn It Up; Mindhunters; BMT: The Curse of La Llorona; Notes: Venezuelan, she grew up poor and has mainly been a model in her career.)

Budget/Gross – $9,000,000 / Domestic: $54,733,739 (Worldwide: $122,133,739)

(A huge success, as all horror films seem to be. This continues the Conjuring Universe dominance though, which I like because I somehow like all of these films. Go figure.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (51/176): Content to coast on jump scares rather than tap into its story’s creepy potential, The Curse of La Llorona arrives in theaters already broken.

(Boo, sounds like The Nun. It seems like a consistent problem with these spin-offs. That all of the set up, and lore building sinks things, so maybe La Llorona 2 or Nun 2 can save those spin-offs. Maybe bodes well for Conjuring 3 though. Reviewer Highlight: …we were cursed with the annoying and shrieking but not even close to terrifying La Llorona. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – The Curse of Los Sklogronos (B+)

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(What a very strange poster. I guess props to them for trying something different. I would have thought they would do something similar to The Nun, but boy they went for it. Not real scary though… slightly creepy. I do like the framing and the little twist on the font. Nice touches. Certainly tells a story… almost too much of one.)

Tagline(s) – She Wants Your Children (C-)

(Huh… just kinda putting it out there. Well, no. She can’t have them. Does she want anything else? It almost feels like one person worked on the poster and the tagline and was like “perfect” after their first draft. “She Wants Your Children.” Nailed it. It’s true.)

Keyword – spin off;

TheCurseofLaLlorona_spin off 

Top 10: Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019), Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), Men in Black: International (2019), Rogue One (2016), Venom (2018), The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016), Bumblebee (2018), Ocean’s Eight (2018), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009); 

Future BMT: 68.1 Supergirl (1984), 62.7 Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014), 59.5 The Mod Squad (1999), 54.6 Annabelle (2014), 42.9 Men in Black: International (2019), 40.8 Planes (2013), 40.8 Beauty Shop (2005), 35.1 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), 29.9 The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016), 27.8 Pokémon: The First Movie (1998); 

BMT: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), The Nun (2018), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), Elektra (2005), Wing Commander (1999)

(I at one point posited a theory that the ‘08 financial collapse made Hollywood retreat to only the safest of the safe bets and out of that grew a very safe business where low-risk properties, like sequels and spin-offs, dominate. Looking at this plot I now think that could have been a coincidence. It will be the story of the ‘10 though, that of universes, sequels, and spin-offs and whatever feelings you have about that.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Linda Cardellini is No. 1 billed in The Curse of La Llorona and No. 6 billed in Hunter Killer, which also stars Gary Oldman (No. 2 billed) who is in Lost in Space (No. 1 billed), which also stars Heather Graham (No. 5 billed) who is in Say It Isn’t So (No. 2 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 = 20. If we were to watch Mindhunters we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – This is the second film in the Conjuring Universe to not feature, or reference, Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s also the first spin-off to feature an antagonist who didn’t appear in the main film series.

Raymond Cruz’s first top-billed role in a film, after consistently playing minor roles in television.

The first of two movies in The Conjuring Universe to be released in 2019. The second is “Annabelle Comes Home”. This is the first time two movies in The Conjuring Universe are released in the same calendar year. The “Annabelle” movies are also referenced in “The Curse of La Llorona”. (Wait … the movies are? Oh no, I bet it is like a Raggedy Ann film type thing, since that is what Annabelle is supposed to be I think)

The lowest grossing movie in The Conjuring Universe. (Still made absolute bank, it has a $6 million budget!)

Tony Amendola, who portrayed Father Perez in Annabelle (2014), reprises this same role in this film. (Oh fun)

Ouija Preview

Oh boy. I am pretty excited for this week’s film. It’s not just because Horror/Thriller has turned into my favorite section of the cycle, but also because this film in particular looked so misguided and awful when it was released that it piqued my curiosity. That’s right! We are watching Ouija, the horror film based on the Hasbro spirit board game and one of the many horror films produced by Michael Bay over the years (he’s a noted enthusiast). Seems like an obvious choice to make an adaptation out of. It’s already about spirits and spooky ghosts so as long as it’s not totally unoriginal and terrible you should be fine. Easy, right? Wrong. Let’s go!

Ouija (2014) – BMeTric: 75.7

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(Pretty good. A film in the 4.0’s staying strong and not rising as votes are added is a very very good sign. This is a case of what I will call Arrested Regression. The film should be regressing to the mean (the mean being that of films with around the same number of votes), but it isn’t. This is because it is in actuality as terrible as it initially seemed, so people seemingly are choosing to see the film despite knowing that it is terrible.)

RogerEbert.com – 3 stars –  Though I admit 16-year old me enjoyed the hell out of “Witchboard,” I didn’t think I’d have fun at “Ouija.” But I did, and assisting me were actors who gave their paper thin teenage types a little humor and character, and the film’s look. Shot by veteran camera operator, David Emmerichs, “Ouija” is a glossy hoot, showing more flair than a throwback to the 80’s horror movie should. As a lifelong horror movie viewer, I wasn’t scared by the film, but I dug the many ways it tried to goose me.

(Wowza! Three stars?! The review reads a little oddly, admitting he basically had a soft spot for the nostalgia the film evoked, but it is an interesting take I suppose. Not very many people agree to say the least.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBLmBdn2QF8

(Classic case where the less you show the better. Definitely parts that make me think it’ll be spooky scary. But then all the parts that they actually show the ghost or have someone flossing with their mouth stitched shut is just… not.)

Directors – Stiles White – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Started in the industry in special effects before launching his career in screenwriting with his writing partner/wife Juliet Snowden.)

Writers – Juliet Snowden (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Married to Stiles White. Also executive producer on the film.)

Stiles White (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Apparently they are both attached to a remake of a German film called Du Hast Es Versprochen. Hoping it works out as well as this one did.)

Actors – Olivia Cooke – (Known For: The Limehouse Golem; Thoroughbreds; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; The Signal; Katie Says Goodbye; Future BMT: The Quiet Ones; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Notably starring in the upcoming blockbuster release Ready Player One. Also in the new Amazon adaptation of Vanity Fair.)

Ana Coto – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Really hasn’t done anything much since Ouija. Weirdly was just in a Logan Paul film released exclusively to Shudder called Can’t Take It Back which is coincidentally about putting something on the internet that you can’t take back… must not have been much of an acting stretch for Logan.)

Daren Kagasoff – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Probably best known as one of the leads of the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.)

Budget/Gross – $5 million / Domestic: $50,856,010 (Worldwide: $103,590,271)

(Obviously a colossal hit. They all are aren’t they? These small budget horror films. It is quite the phenomenon that they can effectively print money with these types of movies.)

#39 for the Horror – Supernatural genre

ouija_supernaturalhorror

(Comes is right around The Devil Inside which isn’t a good look. Being a major money-maker for cheap horror means it has been growing in power throughout the 2000s, although it looks like maybe it is reaching its saturation point now. BMT: The Ring Series, The Devil Inside, Silent Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, Ghost Ship, The Fog, Bless the Child, The Forest, The Gallows, and  The Bye Bye Man)

#13 for the Toy Adaptation genre

ouija_toyadaptation

(They are desperately trying to make this a thing. It looks like it has so far resisted moving beyond a few big budget franchises into faller fair. I feel like this is going to stay in the realm on animated films for the most part though, they’re all adapted from cartoons basically, so Transformers is really the odd-man out, no the other way around. BMT: The Transformer series, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Bratz)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (5/79): Slowly, steadily, although no one seems to be moving it in that direction, the Ouija planchette points to NO.

(I wish someone at RT would tell them that no one wants a joke consensus. Just tell me the actual consensus of the critics, which is kinda the point of your website. This tells me nothing other than you spent too much time trying to think up something clever.)

Poster – Sklog-ja (B-)

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(I can dig this. Bold choice with some interesting font. Decidedly not scary though. Literally just a ouija board… why would I be scared of that?)

Tagline(s) – Keep telling yourself it’s just a game (B)

(I think this is good. Sometimes I have to say it a few times to make sure it isn’t nonsense. But this is short enough and gives a hint of the spooky scary concept. Wish it was a bit more clever.)

Keyword(s) – ghost; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.8 The Fog (2005); 80.2 One Missed Call (2008); 78.9 Feardotcom (2002); 76.9 Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977); 75.7 Ouija (II) (2014); 73.2 Zoolander 2 (2016); 72.8 The Apparition (2012); 70.7 The Gallows (2015); 68.7 The Haunting (1999); 67.5 Pulse (I) (2006);

(We are killing this list. The Fog is by far the best one there. Although The Haunting is a pretty special viewing experience as well.)

Notes – The name can either be pronounced ‘wee-ja’ or ‘wee-gee’. Charles Kennard, founder of the company manufacturing the boards, claimed he learned the name “Ouija” from asking the board what it wanted to be called. (My god)

Far from being ancient, the Ouija Board was patented on May 28, 1890. (Well … yeah, that isn’t a surprise)

Hasbro Studios first horror film. (Probably last? Oh wait, they made (a pretty good) sequel to this film.)

According to costume designer Mary Jane Fort, the cast and crew would often take breaks between shooting and use the Ouija board to jokingly predict the box office opening weekend numbers. (Z-E-R-O D-O-L-L-A-R-S … you know what this is stupid)

The film’s tagline, “Keep telling yourself it’s just a game,” was used for several years as the advertising slogan for the Ouija board game.

Though there are many other horror movies about Ouija boards – some with the same title – this film is not officially a remake of any of them and tells its own story revolving around the titular game. (Well yeah, it is a Hasbro production)

None of the actors portraying teenagers in the film were actually in their teens. The youngest actor was Olivia Cooke who was 21 at the time of filming.

When re-shoots went underway, in the process of drastically changing Doris Zander’s backstory, two new characters were created including her sister and mother. Lin Shaye, who plays Paulina Zander, was not in the original version of the film and was cast for the re-shot footage.

The location where Laine goes to visit Paulina Zander is also known as Eichen House in MTV’s hit TV show, Teen Wolf (2011), where Shelley Hennig, who plays Debbie, stars as Malia Tate/Hale.

Although this is the first film theatrically released starring Shelley Hennig, she filmed this after completing her work on Unfriended (2014) which was previously released as Cybernatural making it her proper film debut (technically). It would be theatrically released about 6 months after the release of this film.

Some cast members are said to have experienced supernatural occurrences since the production of the film Ouija ended. It is said to be influenced by the making of the film.

In the original unaltered version of the film, Doris Zander had a much different look to her. In the original cut she took the appearance of a young girl with half of her face burnt while always carrying a doll. The re-shoots version is a rotting girl with sewn lips. (What? Changing the fundamental look, and thus backstory, of a character like that seems like an odd decision)

Erin Moriarty was cast in the film in an undisclosed role though she does not appear in the finished project. Her scenes were deleted when the film was reshot.

Another theory of where the name of the Ouija Board comes from is that it is the French and German for “Yes”: Oui-ja. The Board has Yes and No answers as well as the alphabet. (No that seems much more plausible)

Film debut of actors Ana Coto, Darren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, and (technically) Shelley Hennig.

Directorial debut of Stiles White.

Although Sarah Morris is supposed to be Laine’s younger sister in the film, in real-life the actress Ana Coto is actually 3 years older than Olivia Cooke, who plays Laine.

The first trailer for the film was released with the theatrical release of The Fault in our Stars (2014) containing alternate footage. A new trailer was released in the summer containing new scenes. In an interview, Olivia Cooke stated that about 50% of the film was reshot due to a negative reaction from test audiences, as a result Universal ordered a week’s worth of re-shoots during the summer 4 months before its theatrical release which drastically altered the original plot. The original cut contained a different assortment of footage including an alternate death scene for Debbie where she instead falls to her death instead of hanging herself (which is why the chandelier is swinging when Pete sees it because she struck it while falling) along with the most advertised scene where Sarah’s eyes roll back and she says “it’s not even real okay? It’s just a game”. Nona was also supposed to have a more prominent role in the film as it implied she becomes possessed in the promotional material. (Wow … this is going to be a mess)