The Curse of La Llorona

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Curse of La Llorona Movie Poster Image
Scary supernatural horror movie has style but lacks oomph.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No real messages here, except, perhaps: Don't open the door when you're told not to.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A case could be made for seeing Anna as strong and independent; she's lost her husband (a cop) and works while raising two children. She makes plenty of mistakes, but she perseveres.

Violence

Scary stuff; jump scares. Children are in peril and die. A boy falls down the stairs and sprains his wrist. Ghost grabs children's arms, leaving burn marks. Young girl nearly drowned in tub. A character pulls a gun and shoots another character in the shoulder. Some blood shown. Character attacks another, swinging a hammer. Character slammed against wall, dragged by ghost. Ghost stabbed by wooden cross. A child playing "cops" pretends to shoot a gun. Eggs spurt red, goopy stuff everywhere.

Sex
Language

A use of "s--t," plus "oh my God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine with dinner; one glugs the rest of a bottle into her glass.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Curse of La Llorona is a supernatural horror movie that's connected to the Conjuring universe. It has a lot of spooky scenes and jump scares; children are in peril, and some die. A ghost grabs kids' arms and leaves painful-looking burn marks. A boy falls down the stairs and sprains an arm, and a girl is nearly drowned in a tub. A gun is fired; a man is hit in the shoulder, and some blood is shown. Characters grapple with and attack each other, and the ghost is stabbed with a wooden cross. Language is infrequent but includes a use of "s--t." Adults drink wine in one scene; in a comical moment, a woman glugs the rest of the bottle into her glass. The movie is well-made but perhaps not very memorable; the characters are likable, but the ghost could have been more culturally interesting, rather than appropriated and used as just another movie ghoul.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bylpetlock April 23, 2019

Worst movie of the year. Terrible. Lost 2 hours forever.

Worst movie of the year. Terrible plot. Corny formula scares. . Lost 2 hours forever.
Adult Written byNsbdbttbbt January 10, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written bySubtract_100 May 10, 2019

Cliche but Entertaining

Though The Curse of La Llorona is pretty cliche, with a creepy antagonist, frequent jump scares, and defense mechanisms like holy water and a cross, the movie i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bybookworm3284 April 23, 2019

Good, but not even near an R rating.

This is a spooky, some times scary slow burning addition to the infamous Conjuring Universe. But it was very underwhelming for an R rating. The violence and sca... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA, it's the early 1970s in Los Angeles. Busy social worker/widowed mother of two Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) learns that one of her cases, Patricia (Patricia Velásquez), has locked her own two boys in a closet. Over Patricia's protests, Anna unlocks the door and lets them out. She finds burn marks on the boys' arms, but they insist that their mother didn't do it. Before long, Anna's own children, Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen) and Chris (Roman Christou), start hearing weeping sounds and have their own arms marked by a ghostly figure: La Llorona. A priest (Tony Amendola) sends Anna and her kids to Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), a former priest who now deals in mystic arts, for help. Can they stop the malevolent ghost from taking Anna's children?

Is it any good?

Though it certainly could have been scarier and made better use of its premise, this film is still an accomplished, skillful effort in terms of its crisp, fluid look and spooky sound design. The feature directing debut of Michael Chaves, The Curse of La Llorona is the sixth entry in the Conjuring universe. It effectively copies the directing style of James Wan (The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2), who serves as a producer here. And while La Llorona often feels like a copy, it's undeniably more effective than many other choppy, shaky-cam horror movies. The traveling Steadicam work, the lengthy shots, the establishing of three-dimensional space, and the sharp editing all contribute to a strong moodiness.

The creepily quiet sound design is enhanced by Joseph Bishara's score. But overall the movie feels somewhat bloodless and not particularly edgy; it's more like watching a classic haunted-house movie than anything fresh or startling. It's a shame that the La Llorona legend wasn't used in a more interesting way, shedding light on what she means to specific cultures, rather than appropriating her and turning her into just another standard-issue movie ghost. But the movie's humans, especially the immensely likable Cardellini, cool-as-ice Cruz (Tuco from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), and quietly consoling Amendola, who explains the legend, help make The Curse of La Llorona a decently watchable experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Curse of La Llorona's violence. Does the fact that much of the violence is directed at children make it more shocking? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies?

  • How does the movie fit into the Conjuring universe? How does this universe work, overall, as a cinematic experience?

  • What did you learn about the legend of La Llorona? Did you wish you could learn more? Did it inspire you to do further research?

  • Is Anna an admirable female character? Is she a role model?

Movie details

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