Friday, April 19, 2019

The Curse of La Llorona - Review

Since Marvel has seemingly taken over Hollywood, numerous cinematic universes have come and failed in the wake of their success. The Dark Universe of Universal crashed before it ever began. The DC Extended Universe has rebranded at least three times by now. And a handful of classical King Arthur and Robin Hood attempts were misguided from the start. Yet somehow, the Conjuring Universe, of all things, has become the successful franchise of the bunch, even if the quality has started to decline.

In 1970s Los Angeles, the legendary ghost La Llorona is stalking the night -- and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother, a social worker (Linda Cardellini) and her own kids (Roman Christou, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope of surviving La Llorona's deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest (Raymond Cruz) who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.

The simplicity and formulaic model of The Curse of La Llorona fits right alongside the other Conjuring spin-offs. Not too complex, not too steeped in themes, just a little horror film with a loose connection to the Warrens. If nothing else, you can hope for a decent design for the titular La Llorona, and on that front, it delivers. But outside of a fun use of reflection here there, everything is pretty standard horror, and without a solid narrative, the whole thing feels weak.

From a performance standpoint, everyone is fairly solid. Linda Cardellini gets the role of Horror Movie Mother #530, but she at least does well with the limited material. However, the real standout is Raymond Cruz. While he doesn’t come into the film for quite a while, when he does, he is a lot of fun. If The Curse of La Llorona does anything, hopefully in spawns his appearance in more spin-off films.

The Curse of La Llorona isn’t awful, but it is not anywhere near good either. It joins other franchise entries like Annabelle or The Nun as critical failures that feature such low budgets that their financial success is almost guaranteed. La Llorona isn’t nearly as terrifying as the other ghastly antagonists of the franchise, but Raymond Cruz as Rafael is a delightfully fun despite the rest of the film being pretty drab. It’s not going to surprise anyone, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes.

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