The Curse of La Llorona: What You Need To Know
As the man behind horror franchises such as Saw and The Conjuring, James Wan is no stranger to a spooky story, but his latest project sees him taking a back seat as producer for a new film based on the Latin American folklore legend of La Llorona.
There are various regional variations of the story La Llorona – which translates as 'The Cryer' or 'The Weeping Woman' - but the Mexican version goes something like this: a wealthy nobleman arrives in a small village and falls in love with one of its inhabitants, a poor but beautiful young woman named Maria. They marry and have two children, and for a while they live happily. Over time, however, the nobleman is increasingly out of town on business, and Maria fears he is beginning to fall out of love with her.
One day the nobleman rides into town with a new woman and announces his intention to marry her, saying goodbye to his two sons and ignoring Maria altogether. In a fit of rage and grief, she drowns both her sons in a river. Later, realising what she has done, she goes to find them, but the current of the river has already swept them away. Overwhelmed with grief, she commits suicide, but is refused entry to the afterlife until she brings her sons with her. Thus, she is condemned to walk the Earth for eternity, constantly searching for her missing children.
The folklore tale forms the loose basis for The Curse of La Llorona, which debuted in cinemas earlier this year and makes its arrival in stores on Monday (September 9th). Here's everything you need to know...
Who's in it?
The film's cast includes Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Sean Patrick Thomas and Tony Amendola.
And who's directing?
The film is a feature-length directorial debut for Michael Chaves, who previously cut his teeth directing comedy web series Chase Champion. He also directed the video for Billie Eilish hit 'Bury a Friend'.
What's the plot?
The film begins with a brief vignette set in Mexico in 1673, where a young boy gives a crucifix to his mother. He closes his eyes for a moment, only to open them and find his family is missing. He eventually finds his mother and is horrified to find her drowning his brother in a stream.
We then cut to the beginning of the story proper, set in Los Angeles in 1973, where a Hispanic case worker named Anna (Cardellini) is called in to investigate the disappearance of two children. Visiting the house of their mother Patricia (Velásquez), she finds the boys locked in a room in her house. Patricia attacks her and is arrested, but the boys are reluctant to leave the room and insist Anna keeps the door locked to protect them. Anna ignores their warning and they are taken to a child services shelter. However, the boys disappear during the night and are both later found dead, having apparently drowned in a river.
Patricia is accused of their murder, but she protests her innocence and insists that they died at the hands of La Llorona. Patricia also confesses to Anna that she prayed to La Llorona to return her boys and take Anna's children instead.
Anna dismisses Patricia's story as a myth and refuses to believe her, but is shocked when she witnesses La Llorona in her own home, attempting to drown her daughter Sam in the bath. After a number of encounters with the mysterious woman in white, Anna is eventually forced to seek help from a priest, Father Perez (Amendola), in an attempt to rid herself of the murderous apparition.
Does it deliver?
Director Michael Chaves isn't breaking any moulds here, but horror fans familiar with the folklore legend may well find plenty of things to like about his debut, especially those who have enjoyed the movies in the Conjuring universe, which is briefly touched on via Amendola's character Father Perez (who you might remember from Annabelle). At just 93 minutes in length it's also lean, mean and more than a little disturbing.