The Curse of La Llorona (2 stars)

The Curse of La Llorona

The sixth entry in The Conjuring Universe is a disappointing take on The Weeping Woman

Dating back to the 1930s, a plethora of horror movies have dared to tangle with Mexican folklore staple La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), including bargain bucket titles like the Wailer trilogy. Nevertheless, The Conjuring Universe's spin on the legend – the sixth entry in the franchise – seems enticing, particularly given its pleasingly diverse cast. Written by the Five Feet Apart duo Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, it's directed by newcomer Michael Chaves – whose flair for eerie visuals can be seen in the Billie Eilish music video for 'Bury a Friend'.

Set in LA in 1973, Linda Cardellini stars as child protection case worker Anna Tate-Garcia, a widow raising two kids while struggling with her grief. A disturbing encounter with the Alvarez family leads to the matriarch of the brood (Patricia Velásquez) passing on the curse of Llorona as part of a revenge plan.

Sadly, that's about it as far as this bare-bones narrative goes before the jump scares begin in earnest. It scarcely introduces its characters before flooding the screen with relentless set-pieces, a priest who continually talks in empty platitudes, a shaman (Raymond Cruz) who bags some shoddy one-liners, and a wicked presence with a fondness for drowning little children and ruining relaxing bath-times. Kudos to Chaves then for the occasional glimmer of terror, especially a visually creepy pool-side scene.

Despite promising elements, The Curse of La Llorona fails to summon enough in the way of unease. Exploring themes of Catholicism and faith with a heavy hand, it culminates in a tension-free finale that attempts to deliver us from evil with a tongue-in-cheek Mexican Exorcist. There may be a giggle or two at how silly the film gets as it unsubtly slides in nods to that damn demon doll Annabelle and Cardellini's turn as Velma in 2002's Scooby-Doo, but an atmospheric, edge-of-your-seat horror this is not.

General release from Fri 3 May.

The Curse of La Llorona

  • 2 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 33min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Michael Chaves
  • Cast: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Marisol Ramirez
  • UK release: 3 May 2019

Anna (Cardellini) is a child protection case worker raising two kids while struggling with widowhood; then a curse is placed on her. The sixth entry in the Conjuring Universe fails to summon enough unease, culminating in a tension-free finale that’s too tongue-in-cheek. Disappointing.