THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA – Review by Susan Granger

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.