Friday Film Review - "The Curse of La Llorona"
KPCW is pleased to welcome a new member of the Friday Film review crew. For her debut, Wendy Gourley is stepping out of her comfort zone and taking a look at the new horror film, "The Curse of La Llorona"
I admit I’m not a big fan of horror movies, so you might wonder why I chose “The Curse of La Llorona” for my first Friday Film Review. I owe it all to La Llorona herself and my fascination with folklore.
The movie is based on a old Mexican story about a poor, but beautiful native woman who falls in love with a Spanish Hidalgo. They are very happy, and she bears him two sons, but when it comes time to marry, he chooses a wealthy Spanish lady of his own class. When he tells his lover, he is going to take his sons away and marry the lady, the girl is driven to madness and drowns her sons in the river. Then in grief, she drowns herself. It is said that La Llorona searches the banks of the river at night searching for the souls of her children.
The movie focuses on widowed Anna and her two children who have become the latest targets of La Llorona and the shaman healer that helps her do battle to protect her family.
Traditionally, this story exists on many levels. It serves as a boogie-man warning to keep children safe or obedient, as in, “You better behave, or La Llorona will get you!”
On this level, the movie works very well. It’s definitely creepy and has practically made an art form out of the perfectly-timed jump scare. It may be thin on character development and has some thematic ideas that never really play out, but someone definitely did their homework on 101 ways to make a scary movie.
The story also serves as a feminist text on how society mistreats women. The movie explores this through the use of mirrors, which could represent the expectations of beauty and decorum that society reflects on to women. But everywhere La Llorona goes, mirrors crack in a violent rejection of those expectations. Sure, she’s a murderous crazy woman, but you got to hand it to her--she exists on her own terms.
I think at its deepest level, La Llorona is the embodiment of the Terrible Mother archetype. It’s about the parts of us and our society that should have been nurtured, but instead were broken and twisted into something dark.
La Llorona is so much more than a story to scare children. Her banshee wail can be heard in every polarizing political tweet, every hate crime, and every mass shooting.
In the last shot of the movie, Anna peers pensively into a rain puddle. We can see the question in her reflected face… “Is La Llorona really gone?” The truth is La Llorona is merely a reflection of us and she will always surface wherever the world has been unloved and fractured into madness.
“The Curse of La Llorona” was directed by Michael Chaves with Linda Cardellini heading up a strong cast. It runs 1 hour and 33 minutes and is rated R for violence and terror.