The latest addition to the Conjuring franchise, The Curse of La Llorona, is honestly nothing special. While there is nothing inherently bad about this particular horror flick, there’s not really much good in it either.
The movie relies heavily on cliche horror movie tropes, while not really managing to do anything original. This includes characters refusing to ever turn on the lights when they’re investigating a noise in their house, and not communicating anything to one another, resulting in the characters getting themselves caught in similarly terrifying situations that ultimately could have been avoided.
The entire second half of the movie even feels like a complete knock off of the original Poltergeist, with the characters seemingly being trapped in their own house in order to stop the spirit haunting them. The annoying thing about this aspect is that the movie had already pointed out that their house had nothing to do with the haunting, and that they could have gone anywhere to fight the spirit, including somewhere much more convenient than their house that had an abundance of hallways and a pool in the backyard that would be perfect for drowning, which was La Llorona’s preferred way of killing people.
The real issue of The Curse of La Llorona was that, even though it basically copied some of the classic horror movies like Poltergeist, it forgot to copy the most important aspects of those movies: their characters. In theory, The Curse of La Llorona could have been a fantastic horror movie if it included characters that we could have connected to. Unfortunately, the only real characteristic that existed for the movie’s protagonist Anna (Linda Cardellini) was that she was a caring mother who wanted to protect her kids.
Outside of that, she didn’t have much, besides grieving her husband and working for CPS, which were both traits that were completely absent for the second half of the movie. The two kids in the movie didn’t have many characteristics either, outside of the girl always wanting her doll and the boy keeping an eye out for his sister.
The Curse of La Llorona really did have a lot of wasted potential, sadly, with many moments that could have been great if they expanded upon them. For example, about halfway through the movie, a super ironic and compelling subplot was introduced that connected directly to Anna when her coworker from CPS and her romantic interest, a cop, showed up at her door to investigate her for abusing her kids.
This drew a direct parallel to Anna’s investigation at the beginning of the movie, feeling incredibly ironic and unnerving. However, this subplot led to absolutely nothing, with neither of the characters returning again for the rest of the movie and nothing being resolved between this fracture between Anna and her romantic interest.
While The Curse of La Llorona may be a step up from a few of the other recent movies in the Conjuring universe, it still lacks the charm and inventiveness that launched this cinematic universe from Warner Bros. Pictures all those years ago. While it definitely does has some of the qualities of horror movies that can keep audience members at the edge of their seat, with a decent amount of scares and other terrifying moments, the lack of character keeps us from actually worrying about the story’s heroes.
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