August 12, 2019  (Web Review)

The Curse of La Llorona

Warner, 93 min., R, DVD: $28.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, Aug. 6

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

The most recent entry in The Conjuring franchise evokes a Latin American folktale, beginning in 17th-century Mexico, where a jealous wife drowns her two children to punish her cheating husband—and then immediately afterward commits suicide. Known as La Llorona—the weeping woman—she is condemned to roam the earth as a ghost, searching for children to take their place. Skip ahead to 1973 in Los Angeles, where Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini), a recently widowed single mom, works for Child Protective Services. As a caseworker, she rescues two young boys from their mother, Patricia (Patricia Velásquez), who locked them in a closet in an apartment that is filled with eerie charms and flickering candles. Promising that they are safe, Anna places the boys in a temporary shelter, just for the evening. But before dawn, they’re found dead, drowned in a nearby river. Spanish-speaking Patricia, who rages about La Llorona and supernatural threats, holds Anna responsible. Far too conveniently, Anna has two children herself—Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) and Chris (Roman Christou)—who are about the same age as the deceased boys. Does crazed Patricia really believe that if the yellow-eyed apparition known as La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez) snatches Anna’s offspring her own will return? Understandably slow to comprehend what may/may not be happening, Anna consults Father Perez (Tony Amendola), who refers her to a former cleric-turned-shaman (Raymond Cruz) whose exotic folk methods are unorthodox. Working from a superficially simplistic script, director Michael Chaves relies way too much on obvious jump scares, creaking floorboards, and shrieking noises. Optional. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include “The Making of a Movie Monster” production featurette (6 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are deleted scenes (11 min.), the behind-the-scenes featurettes “Behind the Curse” (10 min.) and “The Myth of La Llorona” (3 min.), storyboards (2 min.), and bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for an unremarkable horror flick.] (S. Granger)