This new spinoff from The Conjuring horror franchise has turned a Latin American folkloric tale into another pretty average supernatural scarer.
Titled The Curse of La Llorona in most other territories, this follows Annabelle and The Nun in an increasingly crowded canon originated by Australian James Wan’s The Conjuring. While the Saw creator has long since moved onto bigger blockbuster waters with Aquaman, The Weeping Woman has a riff or two of nice scripting and a strong enough performance by Linda Cardellini, undone by its dispiriting predictability.
‘La Llorona’ has appeared in movies and TV previously: she turns up in at least one Mexican flick, the smallscreen’s Grimm and Supernatural, in an altered and softened form in the Guillermo del Toro-produced Mama, and more. However, unlike Mama, and rather more like ‘The Woman In Black’, La Llorona is wholly evil, and she cuts quite a striking figure here with her dirty wedding dress, inky tears, scorching grip, jerky movements, whispered (and unsubtitled) threats and screaming gob.
A nasty (but not too nasty as this is an M Rated movie) opening flashback takes place in Mexico back in 1673, and then we cut to LA in a moderately authentic-looking 1973 and meet widowed social worker Anna Tate-Garcia, as played by Cardellini, whose earlier role as Velma in the live action Scooby-Doo movies is jokingly referenced when the cartoon is seen playing on a television. Anna is called once again to the troubled home of Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez) and misunderstands why her two sons are shut in a closet (it’s for their protection) and why they have burns on their arms. When they say, “She did it!”, Anna thinks they mean their Mom – but they don’t.
Anna, of course, brings down the wrath of the child-stealing La Llorona upon her and her kids Chris (Roman Christou) and Sam (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), and soon the baleful phantom is lurking around the house and gardens, leaping out from behind the curtains and pulling Sam under the bathwater in a bit that owes something to the original A Nightmare On Elm Street. Father Perez (Tony Amendola), a carry-over character from Annabelle, helpfully explains a little about La Llorona’s creepy background, and then priest-turned-medium Rafael Olivera (Raymond Cruz) is convinced to assist by way of candles, incantations and what look like sinister maracas. And yet, in the end, it’s Anna who must go one-on-one against LL, a good-mother-against-bad-mother plot development that’s far older than La Llorona herself.
Hardly terrifying, this lacks the spooky style and pleasing eeriness of the Conjuring installments and feels a little like a stale cash-in – which it is, of course. La Llorona (as played by Marisol Ramirez under lots of make-up and FX) deserved much, much better. It’s almost enough to make you weep.
The Curse Of The Weeping Woman (M) is in cinemas now