You will jump. You will leave the theater disturbed. But that's kind of what you wanted when you walked in, right? The Curse of La Llorona checks all the boxes off the horror movie checklist. If I remember correctly, there were at least two, "Oh s**ts!" and many more, "Oh my gods" at last Thursday's press screening in Los Angeles.
But there's an extra creep factor here. La Llorona, directed by horror film veteran Michael Chaves (The Conjuring series), is based off of an old Latin American folklore. According to the legend, La Llorona was a mother who drowned her three children after finding her husband with another woman. She felt so guilty about murdering her own kin that she then threw herself in the river too. She now returns to haunt other children.
The film is set in 1973, where case worker Anna Garcia, played by Linda Cardenilli, tries desperately to keep La Llorona out of her house and away from her two kids after she terrorizes another mother named Patricia, played by Patricia Velásquez.
One of my complaints about the film is that I don't think it was completely clear why La Llorona had come back at this particular time. Why did she choose to haunt Patricia's household? You don't have much time to dwell on the plot holes, however, because nearly every other scene is a jolt of terror. And the ghost of "The Weeping Woman" is truly terrifying.
Although you will jump several times, you won't be surprised by any of them.
Well, okay. Maybe one...
But, for the most part, La Llorona warns the audience when the ghastly apparition is approaching with a loud bang or the typical creepy music track. That, according to your preference, is either a positive or a negative. For yours truly, it was something that I immensely appreciated. For horror aficionados, I imagine, the predictability factor was extremely disappointing.
Then again, the acting was spot on. Cardenilli is extremely convincing as Anna, a mother scared out of her wits, yet at the same time extremely courageous in the battle to protect her kids. Her legitimate terror throughout the film made me even more petrified. The same can be said for Patricia Velásquez, as another mother terrorized by La Llorona, and the children actors, whose screams I am still hearing. You can't imagine how happy I was to meet Raymond Cruz's character, Rafael Olvera, in the latter half of the film. He offers some severely needed comic relief.
It's no wonder why, according to legend, parents would often invoke La Llorona to scare their children out of breaking curfew.
We give it a: B-
The Curse of La Llorona is in theaters this Friday, April 19. Check out my chat with some of the cast and watch the trailer, if you dare.