The Curse of La Llorona is the latest film in the current ‘Conjuring’ extended Universe. This time John Woo once again staying on in the role as a producer, although this time directing duties have been given to first time feature director, Michael Chaves, who will also direct the upcoming third entry in the main franchise.
Putting aside my whole issue of ‘what’s the whole point of having a Conjuring extended Universe’. What’s it building to? Some kind of Avengers style crossover? At least the Conjuring Universe films have actually managed to get out, and seem to be on a stable production, but their quality has really been all over the place as will be noted by anyone who has seen my previous reviews of the films, most recently I reviewed ‘The Nun’ which I gave a very poor review to.
Because La Llorona has a bit of a difference to it than most of the other extended Universe films in the sense that this one is not an exploration of one of the demonic characters from the previous films, this La Llorona is an entirely new entity this time round based on Mexican folklore. This time is about a mother from child protection services who inadvertently ends up releasing La Llorona during one of her visits, the mother being played by Linda Cardellini, who you might recognise as playing Velma in the live action Scooby Doo films and from there we go to your typical Conjuring film hauntings.
My biggest problem with the Conjuring films is the moral ethicality of promoting the Warrens who don’t even get a cameo this time around in this film but my other big problem with it is because it is based on, and I use this in the loosest terms possible, ‘true’ stories, there is no chance of having a body count so there is really no tension going into these films, you know virtually no one is going to die, in fact the extended Universe films actually don’t have that issue, but again, because they have to be set in some semblance of the real world it has a similar problem. Now the major Conjuring films actually do a pretty good job at making up for this by building up atmosphere and the worst ones are the ones that go back to basic horror tricks, hence one of the reasons why I wasn’t a big fan of ‘The Nun’, but even that film was a bit better than this one.
‘The Curse of La Llorona’ is an apt title because it made me want to weep at how low the franchise has sunk. This film commits a worse crime than ‘The Nun’, I had a lot to say about that film about how I found it really boring and how it wastes whatever potential it had, but at least it had potential, at least there were some scenes that were well shot and made you look at the background quite a few times, that was one of its few decent qualities, hence why I gave it such a bad review when it squandered that. La Llorona I don’t even think it has that, it’s just your typical horror film you’ve seen a hundred times, if fact, nothing about it is very consistent. I know The Conjuring films have very inconsistent monsters in them, but La Llorona takes us to new heights, I wouldn’t say off the top of my head that this film is worse than Annabelle because that was shockingly bad, but again at least that film is so bad it’s memorable. ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ is so boring! I have not been this bored watching a horror film in a long time.
There are so many ‘nothing’ characters in this film. In fact many of them just sort of go after a while. There are tonnes of plot lines that just seem to be ‘there’ and also as I mentioned, there is not much tying this to the overall Conjuring Universe, there is not even any cameos by the Warrens, the obligatory cameo from someone we recognise is from the returning Tony Amendola, who played Father Perez in the Annabelle films. This time we introduce the character Rafael Olvera to be the standard exorcist priest that rips off the characters from the Exorcist, only this time with an Hispanic edge, who is played by Raymond Cruz, who’s IMDB page lists most of his work and it is quite clear that he has spent all of his time doing TV work, in fact the last major feature film was Alien Resurrection. Not something I imagine he puts on his CV. Raymond is trying his best in these scenes, but I swear the director is giving him the direction of play most of these scenes like you’re stoned and couldn’t give a shit! In fact, this film has one of the weirdest directions in terms of acting, because everyone is either overacting beyond belief or underacting to an absurd extent. Tony Amendola is about the only one who seems to have got away scot free and that’s because he is barely in the movie.
I’m really stalling for time with this because the reality is, all this film is, is ‘quiet, quiet, quiet, JUMPSCARE’, that’s it, there is nothing to this film, there is a never a tense atmosphere whatsoever. I don’t want to sound like a complete purist when it comes to films, because years of reviewing has kind of taught me that purism to a source material can actually damage a film just as much as going off the story to do your own thing, but man, why was this film not set in Mexico? I know I’m not the first reviewer to say that, other than to tie it in with the Conjuring Universe, I don’t see why this had to take place in 1970s Los Angeles, with an entirely white family, in fact the Hispanic characters kind of feel like a token gesture, which feels really weird in a film called ‘The Curse of La Llorona’! The basic point I want to get to say is that it is generic, now generic is not a bad thing, I was discussing this the other day with another friend; the Marvel films are, by their very formula, generic films, but the Marvel films really make it work by using that formula to its best degree. Things that are formulaic are not automatically bad, it’s when you rest on the laurels of that formula that they fall down and that’s exactly what La Llorona has done. You have seen this horror film hundreds and hundreds of times, except this time you know because it is a Conjuring film you’re not going to get many deaths, hence why you have never seen any of the Conjuring films feature on the YouTube series ‘The Kill Count’ #shamelessplugforashowIlike and there is really my big issue.
This was a film that I was practically wanting to fall asleep when I was watching it. II think the creators of the film knew this because the film is frightfully short, it only comes in at 93 minutes and I’m pretty sure most of it was the credits. It is also made really clear by the end of this that these characters probably won’t be playing up a larger role in upcoming Conjuring Universe films and I think the poor reviews for this are definitely going to be a factor. What’s more, La Llorona is frightfully poor design, say what you like about the other Conjuring films, but at least the monster looked different. ‘The Nun’ at least stands out in a crowd and Annabelle to a certain extent does actually stand out, which is a lot to say considering how many creepy doll characters there have been. La Llorona, you could probably mix her up for any ghost in any other film. There is nothing distinct about this design.
‘The Curse of La Llorona’ is one of the most boring horror films I have seen I have seen in recent memory, the plot line is appallingly generic, the cast is clearly being poorly directed in their performances and the plot relies on tropes without any chance to build atmosphere. It is a mess of a movie and if this director is going on to direct the upcoming ‘Conjuring 3’, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for that film if you are a fan of it. Honestly, the film’s downfall doesn’t really bother me because I do find the Conjuring films rather ethically repulsive by the fact that they prop up people who have been accused of being con artists, but at least the film makers seem like they are always trying to make something decent, but I didn’t get that with this one and if La Llorona is not in my worst films of the year, I will be very surprised. The Conjuring Universe is returning next time again with another Annabelle film, which I actually saw the trailer of before I went to see it and it actually looks quite good, so I would actually recommend possibly checking that out in the future, but if you are a fan of the Conjuring films, this one is entirely skippable.
Well that’s it for another week and next week I need something better, so I am going to review ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’.
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