The Mexican legend is given a raucous adaptation w/ decently inventive set-ups & fine central character choice but harsh pitches, poor acting, cheap jump scares, & cartoonish CGI – betraying The Conjuring series’ signature realism-facade. 3.2/10.
Plot Synopsis: 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 and her own kids are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope of surviving La Llorona’s deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Review: The Weeping Woman. The infamous hispanic folktale/urban legend has sent chills up many’s spine for centuries, especially those with young kids in latin regions of the globe. In comes the inexorably-scary, realism-based The Conjuring franchise for a film adaptation of the folklore, and what we thought was likely going to be another great feature-length production (and might have been on paper) is perhaps the *worst* offering in the entire series – by miles. The Mexican legend is given a raucous adaptation with decently inventive set-ups & a fine central character choice but harsh pitches, poor acting, cheap jump scares, and cartoonish CGI betraying The Conjuring’s signature realism-facade that makes us – much like La Llorona’s incredibly-annoying shrieking through every frame of the film – beg for this franchise to take a break, temporarily or even permanently.
Paper vs. Execution. What is most striking – and even more so than its titular supernatural being that surprisingly doesn’t even pack the scare her appearance and name recognition demands – is that the film actually looks really good on paper. Writing your central character as a single mother and child protective servivces/social worker in a film about a demonic child-abducter is freaking brilliant and offers up so many opportunities for interesting parallels the film.. not once explores. Even the choice in lead actress of Scooby-Doo veteran (hey, it wasn’t great but she was as spot-on a Velma as you could possibly get. Bonus points for that amusing shout-out to the cartoon in-film too) Linda Cardellini was strong – and she certainly does her best with the ultra-thin trope-steeped lines she’s given as hardly the problem here, in conjunction with at least a culturally-representational laud-worthy look into Mexican traditions, locations, and castings in a film centered around a hispanic legend. The scare/horror sequences are decently-inventive too like the green-hued hospital hallway scene, spectacularly-locationed Mexico 1673 field drowning opening, car window scare, umbrella reflection, and human touch in the end having the daughter let the exiled Widow back in as well as a revenge arc by the previous victims’ mother all deserving way better execution for how intelligently it set up some potentially-intricate frights through smart situational screenwriting.
So, if it has so much going for it on paper, where does it go off the rails for this truly awful product? For one, the film ditches all these beautifully-set up frights for cheap jump scares shotgunned nonstop across the *horrifically*-ill advised 1 hr 30 min time frame feeling so undercooked, it’s practically raw. None of the characters are well-developed even slightly failing to capitalize on its smart characterization hypothesis in main character or even victim mother who could’ve made for an intriguing side plot given much more attention. It feels like a soulless factory 15th-sequel slasher movie, with complete lack of any tension/suspense or detail beyond loud-bumping jump scares requiring little to no mental stimulation to fright anyone, horrific acting by almost everyone involved (spare Cardellini who, again, tries), and somehow – even with only one set of characters in the film – still manages to make us indifferent towards them like lifeless hulls waiting for reckoning. There is not even enough time to discuss all the things wrong with the film’s antagonist portrayal either – a cartoonish, horrifically-CGI’d, non-developed, annoyingly-pitched, ineffectual, shrieking, whiny shell of the demonic oppositions of the series’ previous heights that betrays The Conjuring franchise’s signature/key selling point and difference as well: realism in bases + feel to make the horror feel more tangible and hit harder on a *foundational* level. Absolutely awful.
Overall, The Curse of La Llorona is the worst film in The Conjuring franchise thus far, wasting arguably its most famous, worthy, and well-planned supernatural villain to date in an ineffectual sludge of poor-executional chaos. The Mexican legend is given a raucous adaptation with decently inventive set-ups & a fine central character choice but harsh pitches, poor acting, cheap jump scares, and cartoonish CGI betraying The Conjuring’s signature realism-facade. Please, for the love of the heights the series previously enjoyed, make the madness – like The Weeping Widow’s incessant shrieking – stop.
Official CLC Score: 3.2/10