The most recent entry in The Conjuring franchise evokes a Latin American folktale, beginning in 17th century Mexico, where a jealous wife drowns her two children to punish her cheating husband. Immediately afterward, she commits suicide.
Known as La Llorona, the weeping woman, she’s condemned to roam the earth as a ghost, searching for children to take their place.
Skip ahead to 1973 in Los Angeles, where Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardinelli), a recently widowed single mom, works for Child Protective Services. As a caseworker, she rescues two young boys from their mother, Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez), who locked them in a closet in an apartment that’s filled with eerie charms and flickering candles.
Promising that they’re safe, Anna places the boys in a temporary shelter, just for the evening. But before dawn, they’re found dead, drowned in a nearby river. Now Spanish-speaking Patricia, who rages about La Llorona and supernatural threats, holds Anna responsible.
Far-too-conveniently, Anna has two children – Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kitchen) and Chris (Roman Christou) – about the same age as the deceased boys. Does crazed Patricia really believe that, if the yellow-eyed apparition known as La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez) snatches Anna’s offspring, her own will return?
Understandably slow to comprehend what may/may not be happening, Anna consults Father Perez (Tony Amendola, reprising his Annabelle role), who refers her to a former cleric-turned-shaman, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), whose exotic folk “methods are unorthodox.”
Working from a superficially simplistic script by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (Five Feet Apart), first-time feature film director Michael Chaves – with cinematographer Michael Burgess – relies on obvious jump scares, creaking floorboards and shrieking noises.
According to Chaves, there’s a deleted scene that leaves La Llorona’s necklace with the late Connecticut-based ghost-hunters Ed & Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga). It was cut because they felt it was heavy-handed to make more Conjuring connections.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Curse of La Llorona conjures a creepy 4 – with Annabelle Comes Home scheduled later this year.