The Conjuring Universe delivers a sixth instalment with The Curse of La Llorona. Based on the Mexican folktale of the “Weeping Woman”, the movie continues a worrying trend of poor movies in what was a strong franchise. What could easily work as a standalone movie has been tenuously linked to the shared universe, a connection that does neither any favours.
The film has a strong lead in Linda Cardellini, playing the role of Caseworker Anna Tate-Garcia. Juggling the life of a single mother with her career, she soon discovers that a vengeful spirt is after her children. Upon learning the truth behind the legend of La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), Anna must do battle with the supernatural entity while convincing her colleagues that she isn’t the one harming her children.
Cardellini is fantastic, weathered but full of strength. You believe she’s scared as her beliefs are challenged while she struggles to comprehend the malevolent being she’s facing. As frightened as Anna is, the fear fails to translate to the audience. Director Michael Chaves overuses his jump scares, failing to create any real feeling of dread. It’s disappointing that he chooses to play the same hand repeatedly, hopefully it’ll be a learning curve as he takes over from James Wan for The Conjuring 3.
The minimalist setting allows for a more concentrated haunting and Ramirez moves with an eerie gait that brings presence to the role. As she is revealed one too many times throughout the movie, it quickly becomes a stale act as La Llorona loses her mystique. The failure to convey any terror hurts the character as she feels less like a force to be reckoned with and more a stopgap until the next film.
The Curse of La Llorona is a tired horror that plays it safe with its by numbers presentation. While The Conjuring Universe has gifted audiences with some of the best modern horrors, it now has a 50/50 success rate in terms of quality. Financially, however, it shows no signs of slowing down. While a sequel seems unlikely, there are still many more films planned to tie into the series. Let’s hope they can elevate the franchise and not be dragged down by the weight of expectation as the connection to The Conjuring Universe only caused harm in this instance.
Worth a watch if you’re a horror fan, The Curse of La Llorona doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises or shocks and even die-hard fans of The Conjuring will question why any link was made to begin with.