The Curse of La Llorona

The Curse of La Llorona Review
James Wan


Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona's deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.


If you’re a fan of the ever-expanding universe of The Conjuring, then it makes sense that The Curse of La Llorona would definitely be on your radar. It is the sixth addition to the franchise, joining other recent hits like The Nun and Annabelle in fleshing out the world first introduced by the original Conjuring back in 2013. It’s also the directorial debut of Michael Chaves (who will also be directing the upcoming Conjuring 3) and is, of course, produced by James Wan. Linda Cardellini (Strangeland), Raymond Cruz (From Dusk Till Dawn 2), Sean Patrick Thomas (Kemper, The Burrowers) and Patricia Velasquez (Mindhunters, The Mummy Returns) star.

The premise of The Curse of La Llorona finds its roots in Mexican folklore. La Llorona is a malevolent spirit said to be the ghost of a grieving mother who murdered her own children in the late 1600’s, only to sorely regret it immediately afterward, as one would hope. In death, La Llorona is doomed to walk the earth searching for the bodies of her dead little ones. She is also said to cause mayhem and misfortune in the lives of anyone who sees, hears, or crosses paths with her.

The film opens three centuries after the rumored events of the original legend took place – in Los Angeles of 1973. As inspiration for many a scary story, La Llorona is alive and well in spirit. Single mother and social worker Anna (Cardellini) is too no-nonsense to take the tales seriously when she first learns of them from a coworker whose children to have been terrorized by the spirit. However, she soon starts asking questions of her own when it starts to look as if her children are next on the grieving spirit’s list.

At first glance, that definitely sounds like the makings of a pretty good horror flick, but is La Llorona really worth your time, or are you better off skipping it? Although you might be tempted to make your decision based on how you feel about other films that occupy the same universe, it may be worth your while to judge this one individually instead.

Often, the quality of the actual scares and the authenticity of the atmosphere are the hallmarks of a really great horror movie, and La Llorona does a good job of delivering on that front. You’ll see classic devices you’ll recognize not only from the other films in the Conjuring universe, but many other ghost stories as well. Children sleepwalk, characters suffer from troubling blackouts, and doors creak ominously without any apparent cause. However, as predictable as those devices can be, you’ll likely find yourself on tenterhooks as you watch anyway.

La Llorona brings some truly original (and almost poetic) scenes to the table as well. Some of the scares are relatively unexpected and feel a lot fresher than most viewers were probably expecting. There’s also quite a bit of care given to when, how, and where the spirit herself makes her troubling appearances. Many of the effects are not only frightening, but quite stunning visually – a real plus for a film about the spirit of a broken, disgraced mother turned murderer. Linda Cardellini also shines in her role, as she does in many of her films, even if she is a little underutilized at times.

While The Curse of La Llorona isn’t exactly Oscar material, most horror fans probably aren’t expecting it to be. Many of the suspense tactics are also over-used, which adds a bit of tedium to the story. But, it is a very effective ghost story, as well as a solid addition to the universe of The Conjuring.



La Reliquia - a movie by Paolo Martini

La Reliquia


Disturbing Rosemary's Baby in southern sauce, "La reliquia" (seen online at the Fantafestival in Rome) is a successful insight into the practices and rituals of southern Italy. The theme is the atmosphere is very interesting and original, but the narrative suffers from the short duration. The cast of actors is exceptional, mostly comedians, but perfectly in part in histrionic (Paolantoni) or slimy (Rizzo) roles. The beautiful and evocative photography creates a dark atmosphere. Effective direction. Note of merit: the use of the lunar music by Egisto Macchi, author of... Read More

Gretel & Hansel Review

Gretel & Hansel


Anyone familiar with the original versions of classic fairy tales like “Hansel and Gretel” already knows that they have lots of horror movie potential. As a rule though, most attempts to capture these tales on film tend to miss the mark. It’s clear from the conspicuous reversal of the titular names that Gretel & Hansel hopes to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack right from the get-go, but does it actually do the job, or are you better off spending 90 minutes of your time on some other film? Gretel & Hansel is the brainchild of writer/director Oz... Read More

Ritual Review



A married couple with a complicated relationship, a corpse, and a room at a less than reputable motel. It’s a classic formula for a horror movie that’s no doubt familiar for many genre fans. It’s also the set-up for Mickey Keating’s 2013 film, Ritual. Ritual is the 14th original film distributed by After Dark Originals. It stars Dean Cates (Pod) and Lisa Summerscales as married couple, Tom and Lovely. Additional costars include Derek Phillips (Serum), Brian Lally, and Katherine Skelton. Ritual opens with a warning title card, promising plenty of violence to come. It... Read More

Dead Awake review

Dead Awake


Whether you’ve personally experienced it or simply heard your share of other people’s horror stories over the years, it doesn’t get much scarier than sleep paralysis. Director Phillip Guzman (Sleep No More) makes this all too relatable real life phenomenon the center of his 2016 indie horror film Dead Awake. The film stars indie horror favorite Jocelin Donahue (House of the Devil, All the Creatures Were Stirring) in the lead, as well as Jesse Bradford (Cherry Falls), Brea Grant (Dead Night), Lori Petty (Bates Motel), and others in supporting roles. The... Read More

The Noonday Witch review

The Noonday Witch


When you think of the most chilling horror tales of all time, there are a lot of staples that come immediately to mind when it comes to possible settings – like dank asylums, haunted houses, isolated forests, or just about anywhere that feels a little creepier and more sinister under cover of darkness. You don’t probably think of sun-drenched corn fields or bright summer days in the countryside, but The Noonday Witch may just change your mind about that. The Noonday Witch is a 2016 Czech language film brought to the screen by promising Czech director, Jiri Sadek. (In... Read More