Weeping Lady in White!
Widowed and single mother of two, Anna (Linda Cardellini) not only has to raise her children on her own, but also has to navigate her stressful job as a social worker. Taking interest in a certain case involving a troubled mother suspected of abandonment, Anna gets drawn into the world of the supernatural, as a manifestation of the Mexican legend known as La Llorona may be behind the disappearance of her client’s children, and may also be just starting to possibly haunt her own family, as well. Anna’s kids have several run-ins with a creepy woman dressed in white, and soon their arms are marked by the frozen, blistering grip of the Weeping Woman, as is, eventually, Anna herself. Turning to the Church, they find no help, so they must rely on a former priest and current shaman to fight this spirit that is threatening to take away Anna’s children. Can they use the magic and power of God to defeat La Llorona, or will the vengeful spirit kidnap Anna’s kids and take them away forever?
I was excited to see this movie when it came out as I’m a big fan of the La Llorona story, even adapting it into part of a novel I wrote (yes, that was a plug). But when the movie was released, word of mouth wasn’t very kind, so I avoided it, eventually buying it cheap on DVD. Of course, it ended up in my stack of “to be watched” because I wasn’t too enthused. Well, no better time than now, so I broke it out. What I got was a tepid movie that had a few good moments, but is a good example of formulaic Hollywood horror. I suppose this movie would be scary to someone who has never seen a ghost story before, or for teens doing their first exploration into terror, so there’s something to be said for that. However, for a jaded guy like me, there wasn’t much here, other than a few good, creepy moments. Instead, what I got was by-the-numbers: here’s the “scary” jump scene, here’s the “scary” CGI monster, with no feeling of real stakes involved other than shadowy rooms and the rote “love of a mother.” Also, they seem to be making up the rules how to fight La Llorona as they go along, which makes the narrative even more unsteady. Now I’m not saying this movie is bad, because it certainly isn’t; it’s just glossy and empty. Even a small tie-in with the Annabelle franchise didn’t do much for me, other than make me groan just a bit. Oh, and despite a number of Latino actors, I couldn’t shake loose the feeling of white liberal lip-service. Maybe it was because the main protagonist was as WASP-y as it gets (no offence to Cardellini, as she’s good here).
The Curse of La Llorona is a decent if meaningless film. The acting is good, the action is fine, the scares are by the book. Nothing extraordinary is going on here, nothing to recommend seeing this even once, much less multiple times. I suppose if you’ve got a young teen that wants to be scared, that wants to explore horror films, this might be a good, safe choice for them. Other than that, steer clear. It ain’t bad, but it ain’t good, either.
Two Stars out of Four