07th May2019

‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Roman Christou | Written by Mikki Daughtry, Tobias Iaconis | Directed by Michael Chaves

curse_of_la_llorona-poster

The Curse of La Llorona is directed by James Wan protege Michael Chaves and stands as the directors’ penultimate test, as he has been chosen – specifically by Wan himself – to finish up what he started in the third, and supposedly final, entry in the Warner Brothers The Conjuring franchise.

The Curse of La Llorona is sadly a surface level horror with a few mildly interesting scares but unfortunately poorly explores the rich Mexican culture on screen in an insufficient and almost cheap manner. The camera work is suitable and fitting throughout with a similar aesthetic utilised by Wan in his Conjuring pictures, with the use of space on the screen undeniably something to admire. The wide lenses utilised by cinematographer Michael Burgess and director Chaves formulate a vast image on screen crafting a daunting, albeit, engaging atmosphere that pulls you into this story. Resulting in the audience unable to hide from this picture, which is a shame concerning the sub-par scares executed.

Granted, the shadows are engrossing and the lighting excellent, and like Wan, Chaves with the edit from Peter Gvozdas, opts for long takes that soak up tension and atmosphere in such a chilling and wonderfully horrifying manner. Yet sadly the film can’t keep up its end of the bargain with the thrills. The first few instances – in particular, the films superbly cold opening that sends shivers down your spine – eventually nosedives throughout until the film just gives up in its final act and decides to venture into a different genre entirely. The iconography is fabulous and much like the Nun character in The Conjuring and its own feature, delightfully titled The Nun, it wouldn’t surprise me to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of this character, but with all the impact fleeting, it begs the question if this at all has any more legs to travel.

The performances are also mildly entertaining and intriguing, Linda Cardellini and Raymond Cruz as Anna Tate-Garcia and Rafael Olvera, respectively are terrific in their respective roles. Cardellini does what she can with the extremely limited depth and layers she has to work with, which is condensed to offhand exposition any chance the screenplay from Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis has to offer in some form of backstory. She holds the film together with a tightly induced performance with emotional depth, while Cruz treats the film with the contempt it deserves. Stealing all of his scenes with a sarcastic ironic charm, but his character is undeniably hollow. Patricia Velásquez, however, completely steals the show as Llorona victim Patricia Alvarez. Evoking such a formidable and frantic performance that absolutely terrifies with every second her character is exercised.

The Curse of La Llorona unfortunately just feels hollow and slightly cheap. Considering the running time is a rather short and sweet ninety-three minutes the film doesn’t have time to explore characters and deliver on giving the audience the most riveting and engaging film it can. Ultimately left to just breeze through the conventional generic checklist and offer a watered-down terror at every other turn. The exploration of such a rich and colourful culture as a Mexican folktale is so poorly exercised it sadly comes off as exploitive more so than anything else, of course, one would hope that such isn’t the intention of the filmmakers, but with a hollow impact and exploration the result is a massively missed opportunity to bring a culture alive on screen.

The Curse of La Llorona is in cinemas now.

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