The Conjuring universe is weird. It started off very good with the first movie, then it started spinning off into Annabelle (3 of them now), The Nun, and now this. There have been 7 completed films released in the franchise, with 3 more planned for the future. It’s time to admit, I don’t get it. I don’t get the massive success of them considering the average nature of them. I wouldn’t mind if they were different and they each had their own identity and distinct flavour, but so many of them are the same movie repeated again and again, maybe that’s what horror is now but I’m not a fan. A lot of scares are repeated too, I get the feeling if you watched these all in quick succession you’d struggle to tell the difference between a lot of them. Saw a chart that said horror movies can be categorised in 6 sub-genres: gore/disturbing, psychological, killer, monster, zombie, paranormal. So far, all of these films have been in the last category. I’m not asking them to suddenly do The Thing but I just want something different from what they’ve already released (really close to each other as well so you don’t even get time to forget the similarities).
So, onto this particular film. As you can probably guess I wasn’t too impressed, mainly because I found it really dull. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve already seen a lot of the scares before. I had an issue with the casting too. It’s a very Hispanic movie, set in Hispanic lore and traditions which are integral to the plot. Most of the cast are Hispanic, with one exception, the lead. She was played by Linda Cardellini, who you may know from Scooby-Doo.
Yeah, much Hispanic.
I know, whitewashing happens, but it’s not usually this noticeable. The film isn’t even good enough to distract you from this. La Llorona is a real tale, it’s a genuine thing people believe and it’s a terrifying concept. So for it to be reduced to a cookie-cutter generic “thing goes woooo” is disappointing. Much like a lot of these films the “powers” are indecisive. There are moments where she’s in a perfect position to kill someone and then just doesn’t, despite that being her goal. There’s a point where the ghost is in a room alone with a child that she wants to kill, so she washes her hair. She does later hold her head under the water, so it ended with her doing the attempted kill, but it should have happened earlier and the only reason it didn’t was that the film-makers wanted a disturbing image. And it is a disturbing image, but it breaks the story.
Like I said, the legend of La Llorona is a fascinating one about a woman wandering the earth looking for her children so she can get into heaven. She kidnaps children and then drowns them. In the film this translates to her locking doors and doing that sudden “creepy forward movement” that these films love, then cut to black. This doesn’t always happen near rivers, which would have made it a more effective film. Actually a much more effective use of the legend is if the entire film was set in a campsite etc, somewhere near a river. As it is the film turns into a generic haunted house film for the closing section. It should have been set near a river for the entire film and used that. Would have allowed you to stick to the story, have more natural looking deaths, have an ensemble cast of children that you could slowly kill off (as opposed to killing two at the start, and that’s pretty much it), and would allow you to get better images (a mother watching La Llorona approach her child whilst she’s on the opposite side of the river unable to help would be an arresting image). This film has no differences from the other films in the franchise, and I cannot overstate how much of a wasted opportunity that is.
So in summary, not just a bad film, but a very disappointing one too.