The Curse of La Llorona is yet another Conjuring movie we didn’t ask for

The Curse of La Llorona is yet another Conjuring movie we didn’t ask for
Some horror films, like last year’s Hereditary, are flat-out horrifying. Others, such as the recent Halloween or Pet Sematary reboots, are legitimately frightening. The Curse of La Llorona – pronounced “La Yurona,” it means “the weeping woman” – is neither of these. The best you could say is it’s startling.

Director Michael Chaves, making his big-screen debut, is content to repeat the same fright formula over and over again in this movie. Things get very quiet; there’s a thump from upstairs; more silence; a medium-sized noise; quiet again; then a loud shriek. It’s a hop, a skip and a jump-scare.

The movie is marketing as being “part of the Conjuring universe,” a loose series that includes two Conjuring movies (Chaves is at work on Part 3), two more featuring a creepy doll, and last year’s The Nun. (We’ll leave you to figure what that one was about.)

But there seems to be no connection between the events of this cursed film and any of the others, unless you count the priest (Tony Amendola) who mentions “an incident with a doll.” The so-called Conjuring Universe would seem to be what the rest of us refer to as “the universe.”

The plot? If I must. After a brief prelude in “Mexico 1673” we move to “Los Angeles 1973” and meet social worker Anna (Linda Cardellini). She pays a visit to another single mother (Patricia Alvarez) whose two children may be in danger; at the very least, their home has about 250 too many candles in it.

When those kids meet an untimely end, Anna’s own children are next on the list for the cranky, crying ghost. They’re played by 12-year-old Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen – proving you’re never too young for a scary scene in a bathtub – and Roman Christou, proving you’re also never too young for a ghost to drag you out of a room by your feet. If The Curse were a level of hell, it would be a mezzanine just below limbo.

Raymond Cruz joins the cast as a defrocked priest whose culinary anti-demon remedies include eggs and spices, which means even if they can’t defeat the child-killing monster, they can at least have a decent final meal. He tries his best, but the screenplay, with its emphasis on squeaky doors and drafty windows, doesn’t give him much to work with.

He does get the most poignant lines in the film. “We are facing an evil that knows no bounds,” he remarks darkly at one point. And after La Llorona has blown out 300 candles as though it’s her birthday: “We all need to work together; La Llorona thrives in darkness.” Sure, he could be referring to a wrathful spirit. But he also could be talking about the Conjuring series itself. If you go to see this one, you have only yourself to blame for whatever follows.

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