The latest chapter in the ever increasing cinematic universe spun off of The Conjuring films is now upon us. It's time for The Curse of La Llorona. The movie, set in 1973, stars Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks) as a single mother and child protective services worker, Anna Tate, who gets caught up in the curse when dealing with a case involving a Hispanic woman (Patricia Velasquez-The Mummy Returns) and her two children, whom she had locked in a closet to keep them safe from La Llorona, a vengeful spirit who comes to take children to the underworld to be with her to replace her own children, whom she drowned when she was alive.
Her misinterpreting the children's statements that "she" will hurt them now and that "she " had burned their wrists leads her children to be taken away, where they are soon killed by the very spirit their mother had sought to protect them from.
Anna and her family become embroiled in the curse themselves when waiting in the car for their mother to finish up at the crime scene where the boys bodies were found.
What happens next is an increasing series of jump scares and set pieces and people not communicating with each other that would have saved them so much trouble. As each member of the family encounters the vengeful spirit, nobody says anything about it to each other, until Anna herself is accused of abusing her children, after taking her son to the hospital after La Llorona pushed him down the stairs.
It's about this point that I was due to walk out of the film out of sheer boredom, but then, something magical happens. We get our tie in to The Conjuring universe, as Tony Amendola reprises his role from Annabelle as Father Perez, who advises that the church does have people they can call in times such as these, but it would take too long to bring them in. I liked this nod to the other films, and the Warrens, and that they treat this the way Marvel brings up not calling in The Avengers for other heroes individual movies, we could, but it would make the plot too easy, so we won't.
Instead, he offers the help of Rafael Olivera (Raymond Cruz-Breaking Bad) an ex priest turned faith healer/exorcist. This guy made the movie for me. He's a badass but with a sense of humor, and he injected the fun that was missing in the film's first half. He sets the house up for traps like a supernatural Kevin Mccalister to help save this family, and that's the ride we're on for the rest of the picture.
Like I mentioned, at first, I really wasn't liking the movie, we don't really get to know any of the characters enough to care about them, the movie just moves from jump scare set piece to jump scare set piece early on, and most of them we saw in the trailers, which really defeated the purpose. Still I did like the initial encounter with the kids in the car, reminded me of the T-Rex scene from Jurassic Park but replace the 20 foot tall dinosaur with an evil spirit lady.
If you're a fan of jump scares and maybe didn't see the previews then you may enjoy the first half of the film more, I will say. But for me the second half of the movie is what makes the movie for me. It's still the same jump scares and everything, but with the character of Rafael in the mix it makes it more enjoyable.
I was most disappointed though in the look of La Llorona, with such iconic horror villains in this franchise as The Nun, and Annabelle, La Llorona, when they show her face, looks like scary Emperor Palpatine with black blood oozing out of her eyes but in CGI. She works best when kept in the shadows, much like the best old school movie monsters, far more terrifying when you get glimpses of her than when you actually see her up close.
All in all, I had fun with the movie for the most part, and again, if you're a fan of jump scares then you'll be in horror movie fan heaven. Final score for the movie 2.8 zombie hands, so close to three it's scary.
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