For producer and master of the horror genre, James Wan, the road to making “The Curse of La Llorona” has been a long one. “When I first came to America, one of the first stories that people would come up and tell me was the legend of La Llorona,” shares Wan whose list of scary flicks include “The Conjuring,” “Lights Out” and “The Nun.” “People see my movies and guess that I love ghost stories, but La Llorona is so much more. You understand why it’s such an integral part of people’s lives growing up. I just became fixated on this story. I thought, ‘What an amazing, scary figure to bring to the big screen.’”
Set in 1973 Los Angeles, the film tells the story of skeptic Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini), a social worker and widowed single mom who is struggling to balance the two roles while coping with the loss of her husband, an LAPD detective, when she discovers the legend La Llorona. A caseworker in L.A.’s busy social services system, Anna’s job takes her into troubled homes to look out for the welfare of at-risk children and it’s at the home of Patricia Alvarez she discovers two bruised boys locked in the closet. However, after she takes them into protective custody they are discovered drowned in a nearby river days later.
As she delves deeper into the mysterious death of the boys she comes across the legend of La Llorona and discovers this legendary spirit which hunts children is also set on taking her own kids Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). With nowhere else to turn, she puts her faith in Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), a former priest-turned-curandero. Bringing his powerful faith and arsenal of spiritual totems, Rafael bands together with Anna and her kids as they batten down the hatches and arm themselves for the onslaught when night falls and La Llorona unleashes the full force of her furious supernatural wrath.
“La Llorona is a cultural phenomenon and beloved by some of the biggest horror fans in the world. When this project came along, all I wanted to do was help get it off the ground, so people could see this story they love so much come to life on the big screen,” continues Wan.
One of the most iconic and widely known figures in Latin American folklore, La Llorona – and her terrible thirst for children’s souls to replace the ones she drowned in life – has fueled the nightmares of generations of kids and left her mark on a vast swath of the Americas.
The feature directorial debut of Michael Chaves, the filmmaker behind the award-winning short “The Maiden,” the film also stars Raymond Cruz (TV’s “Breaking Bad,” “Training Day”) and Patricia Velasquez (TV’s “Arrested Development,” “The Mummy” films), along with Marisol Ramirez (TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”) and Sean Patrick Thomas (the “Barbershop” films, “Halloween: Resurrection”) who plays Anna’s late husband’s friend Cooper.
Shot entirely on practical locations in and around Los Angeles, with Anna’s home being found in the city’s West Adams district, creaking doors, darkened rooms, an eerie score coupled with perfectly paced tension allows this formulaic film to have some scary and jumpy moments, but it is a predictable drama and certainly not worth the hype.
The film releases in U.S. theaters April 19. Check out the trailer below:
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures