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Movie Review: “The Curse of La Llorona”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/19/2019

Theatrical Release: 4/19/2019

Synopsis

Anna (Linda Cardellini) works for child protective services, and is working an odd case. Two kids are very clearly being abused, and while their mother (Patricia Velasquez) is claiming to be protecting her kids, all signs point to the her being the one who is abusing them. There are burn marks on the kids’ arms, and she locks her children in a small closet at night. It seems like a pretty cut and dry case, but when the kids are put in great danger with their mother nowhere to be found, Anna starts to think there might be more to the story.

Weird things start happening around Anna’s house. Her kids start seeing a strange woman, and when her own kids get mysteriously familiar burn marks on their arms, Anna starts to believe the abusive mother may have been innocent. More importantly, she believes her kids are now being targeted. She learns the story of La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez), a beautiful woman who lost her children in a terrible turn of events. Long after her death, she now roams the land of the living, searching for children to replace her own. Now it seems she has her sights set on Anna’s children.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Linda Cardellini (+5pts)

Obliviousness & Dumb Decisions (-4pts)

The Shaman & The Church (+5pts)

La Llorona (-6pts)

Patricia (+3pts)

The End (-4pts)

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Pro: Linda Cardellini (+5pts)

I did not hate this movie, but while it was not great, Linda Cardellini made it feel like much more than a straight-to-television horror movie. She made the threat feel real, she conveyed her character's love for her children, and she conveyed her character's sense of helplessness. Without a strong performance from the movie’s lead, it would have been hard for me to care about what was going on. Fortunately, Linda Cardellini was there to get me invested in the characters, as well as the danger that they were in. I will get into my issues with the primary antagonist later in this review. All I will say here is that I did have issues with her, and that those issues could have made the threat feel less severe. The performance from Linda Cardellini, in addition to making me care about the protagonists, made the threat feel serious.

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Con: Obliviousness & Dumb Decisions (-4pts)

Linda Cardellini may have been in this movie, but this was far from Velma using her book smarts to solve a mystery. There were some pretty obvious clues that something mysterious and sinister was going on, but—in an attempt to drag out the suspense—the filmmakers made the main character oblivious to a lot of pretty obvious signs. I will not go into details to avoid spoilers, but know that the main character took way too long to figure out what was going on. Additionally, the side characters—the children and the shaman—consistently made dumb decisions for no reason other than for the filmmakers to keep the threat of the movie alive. I always hate when filmmakers use their characters' poor decision making as a plot device to move the story in a specific direction. It is just lazy writing, and the filmmakers of this movie did just that.

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Pro: The Shaman & The Church (+5pts)

Too many horror movies focus on christianity, or priests. Characters of too many movies are going on with their ordinary lives, then supernatural things start going down, so they call a priest. The priest then seems to have all the answers. We all know how that story goes, as we have seen that story before, but this movie went in a slightly different direction, which was refreshing.

Rather than the priest having all the answers, Anna ends up going to a ”shaman”. This guy was once a priest, but was not one any longer, for reasons that I will let the movie explain. As such, he had an unorthodox way of doing things. It was unorthodox to the characters in the story, but most importantly, it was somewhat unorthodox to the audience as well. I liked the character, and I liked the actor playing him (Raymond Cruz). While he was still a priest once upon a time, it was interesting to have him be a former priest due to his unorthodox methods. In a movie that could have felt very typical, this character gave the story some unique flavor.

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Con: La Llorona (-6pts)

Unfortunately, my least favorite part of this movie was the main antagonist, and titular character. That being said, I thought the filmmakers did a decent job of setting her up. There was enough backstory to explain who was in danger and how much danger they were in, but not so much backstory that it ruined the antagonist. What did ruin the antagonist, was the fact that she did not do anything.

As the movie progressed, the character felt like less and less of a threat. She consistently scared the protagonists, and consistently had the opportunity to do more, only to just leave without any reason. What is scarier: a person who you know will scare you if they get the chance, or a person who you know will kill you if they get the chance? Now I am not speaking to the end of the movie here, but La Llorona did not do anything noteworthy during the entire rising action, which made it so that I was never worried for the main characters' safety throughout the majority of the movie.

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Pro: Patricia (+3pts)

This character played a role that we do not normally see in a horror movie. The movie started with Patricia protecting her children from La Llorona. However, when child protective services showed up, they believed Patricia was crazy and that she was harming her own children. I liked this storyline because we, the audience, knew that Patricia was just as much a victim as the other characters in the story. However, she was treated as the villain of her own story, and it was tragically completely understandable to vilify her, from the perspective of the protagonists.

I also liked where her story went after this, as well as her justifiable motives against those who she felt were responsible. The only thing I did not like about this character was the ending, as I did not think the filmmakers had earned it yet. Other than that, this character worked well, because she was unique, she had compelling motivations, and she was a wild card in Anna’s otherwise predictable story. I just wished the filmmakers gave this character a proper conclusion.

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Con: The End (-4pts)

What can I say about the ending without giving it away? Well I already mentioned that I did not like Patricia's involvement with the ending, as I did not think the filmmakers had earned it yet. Other than that, it just felt like the ending was too convenient. Nothing, that the protagonists tried was anything they could not have done much earlier in the movie.

To take that thought even further, I would go as far as to say they should have tried it earlier, and that it was pretty dumb that they did not. The ending felt typical, and it went pretty much exactly how you would expect it to. The only reason the protagonists did not try this particular plan sooner was because the movie would have been far too short if they had. Unfortunately, that was just lazy writing.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (74pts)

The Curse of La Llorona looked like a very typical horror movie. For the most part, it was, but there were some elements of this story that I thought gave it some unique flavor. Patricia was a unique side character, as she played the role of a protective mother who blamed the main character for what happened to her. The shaman played the role that normally goes to a priest character, but by being separated from the church, his methods felt unorthodox—which in turn made this story feel more unique. Both of these characters gave this movie unique flavor, but unfortunately, the filmmakers did not focus much on them. The filmmakers instead focused on Anna, who was a pretty straight-forward character, but her entire mission was to protect her kids, which was an easy thing to get behind.

Linda Cardellini gave Anna a lot more depth than the character called for, which certainly helped, but it was not enough to save the movie. The movie's biggest problem was its titular antagonist, La Llorona. I liked the setup of this character, but I thought the execution of the character was handled very poorly. It did not feel like she did anything noteworthy in the entire movie. She just popped up here and there to startle the protagonists and the audience, only to leave without doing anything. When the climax of the story arrived, it ended up being a typical and lack-luster ending. It was not a "bad" horror movie, in my opinion, but it was unfortunately nothing special.

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