Review: The Curse of La Llorona

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

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PLOT: A widowed social worker (Linda Cardellini), raising her kids in 1970s Los Angeles, inadvertently makes her family the target of an ancient curse.

REVIEW: The way THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA is being sold is puzzling. The posters all say “from the producers of THE CONJURING universe” but it’s actually directly related to that franchise. A minor character here, Tony Amendola’s Father Perez, was in ANNABELLE. Thus, it’s technically part of what’s become an extremely profitable horror franchise for Warner Bros, although perhaps La Llorona isn’t quite as immediately identifiable as Annabelle the doll or THE NUN, making it a harder sell. Part of me thinks the reason they’re not leaning into it being part of THE CONJURING universe is because they know it won’t be as big of a smash as the other movies and they don’t want articles out there saying that the franchise is running out of steam.

No matter how it’s being sold, make no mistake, LA LLORONA is a CONJURING spin-off and very much in the mold of the other films. Directed by Michael Chaves, who just landed a prime gig directing THE CONJURING 3 now that Wan has shot into the stratosphere with AQUAMAN, this is the kind of horror movie that works best for younger viewers (despite the inexplicable R-rating) and teenage couples looking for cheap scares.

It’s actually a shame LA LLORONA resorts to these kinds of cheap jump scares as Wan has typically avoided that kind of thing in his own spooky thrillers. This is more in the vein of a LIGHTS OUT than anything else, but the audience I saw it with seemed to love it, so these types of movies clearly work well enough for some.

If you’re a hardcore horror fan though, THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA is pretty weak, familiar stuff. It’s elevated somewhat by the presence of Linda Cardellini in the lead, with her bringing some real heart to her part as a new widow trying to juggle her job as a social worker with the new pressure of being a single mom. While one might question the logic of her bringing her two children to a crime scene where a couple of kids have been murdered, she’s sympathetic throughout, even if the premise is silly.

the curse of la lloronaBasically, she inadvertently interferes with a mother’s efforts to protect her children from the curse, and thus finds it passed on to her. La Llorana is a vengeful spirit that seeks to possess and drown children (with the off-screen deaths of two kids early on being the only logical reason this tame horror flick would ever earn an R-rating). She goes to Amendola’s open-minded priest for help, and he hooks her up with a faith healer played by the always solid Raymond Cruz, who tries to defend the family from this evil spirit.

Overall, it’s very familiar stuff but as a pure genre exercise, undemanding audiences may enjoy it as disposable entertainment. It feels more like a dry run for Chaves before taking on THE CONJURING 3 than a fully realized film, with him playing around with tracking shots and long takes in an effort to give it some style. Even still, this is barely passable horror entertainment at best, with it a fairly bland outing that’s only for younger audiences. It’s immediately forgettable, and while some folks may have a little fun watching it none of the imagery will stick with you very long afterward.

The Curse of La Llorona



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.