By Joshua Bitz
If you grew up in a Hispanic household, it’s likely you’ve heard the story of La Llorona before. Once there was a beautiful woman named Maria who married a wealthy man and had two sons with him. However, the man cheated on Maria and left her for a younger woman. Maria drowned her sons in a jealous fury. Upon realizing what she did, she fell into sorrow and guilt, and killed herself.
Now she seeks out her sons again as a dark spirit; killing any children she comes across to take them with her to the afterlife. There is a lot of potential here for a truly terrifying horror movie. However, “The Curse of La Llorona,” made by the same people who made “The Conjuring” and “The Nun,” suffers from two major issues.
First, they shoved a Mexican woman into the role of antagonist. Patricia was a desperate mother trying to protect her children. When they were killed, Patricia essentially cursed Anna, who she held responsible for her children getting killed, making her responsible for La Llorona targeting Anna’s family in the first place.
This wouldn’t be the only time that Patricia tries to get Anna’s children killed but saying anymore would spoil the ending. They really screwed up by having Velasquez’s character playing the role of essentially the main antagonist, since La Llorona is more a force of nature than an actual character.
The movie’s pace is also too rapid. The movie opens up with a chilling scene that shows the backstory of La Llorona. It never really loses that tension as the movie goes on, which in a horror movie is a net negative. Well-paced horror tension needs to have moments of reprieve to lull the audience into a calmer state so the next scare is effective, but La Llorona never lets the audience calm down.
Viewers are always on edge in this movie, and the scares never have time to build up, lessening the impact. The hour–and–a–half runtime feels much shorter due to the rapid pace of the movie, and it leaves the climax feeling disappointing.
That being said, the movie does some other things right. For one thing, the visuals are incredibly creepy and well done. The use of Hispanic Mysticism and the rotted, oozing appearance of La Llorona sell the atmosphere. Marisol Ramirez, the actress who played La Llorona, does an outstanding job at making La Llorona a terrifying presence in the movie, and she props the movie up from below average.
All in all, “The Curse of La Llorona” is an average movie with pacing issues that is supported by the visuals and performance of the main threat. If you’re a fan of “The Conjuring” universe, you’re honestly okay just skipping this movie. There is only one reference to “The Conjuring” universe. Unless you grew up terrified of La Llorona, the horror doesn’t linger after the movie ends.