This was originally reviewed out of the SXSW film festival.
The Curse of La Llorona is set on the outskirts of the blockbuster Conjuring franchise, which may lend it a mainstream commercial appeal but also a by-now deadened familiarity thanks to the series’ well-worn formula. We’ve seen many of this film’s supernatural scenarios before — in this franchise and in bogeyman/haunting films in general — but in the end The Curse of La Llorona ekes by due to its occasional playfulness and the sympathy engendered by its main family.
After a brief but brutal prologue set in 1673 Mexico — where we see how “The Weeping Woman” of Latin American folklore came to be by drowning her own children in a jealous rage, thus cursing herself to roam forever as a specter searching for other kids to kill — the film resumes in Los Angeles 1973, a period which Conjuring-verse fans will know is not long after the events of the LA-based Annabelle. (A supporting character from that film, Father Perez, pops up here to provide the bare minimum of connective narrative tissue between the films.)