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Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona's deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.Written by
This was a film that I first heard about at the Nightmare Film Festival. I've enjoyed most of The Conjuring universe to this point and was interested to see how this film played out. The synopsis is ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm.
We kick this one off in Mexico back in 1671. We see a mother, Marisol Ramirez, with her two sons. They are playing a game and one of them closes their eyes. Once he opens them, his brother and mother are gone. He finds them in a local creek, with his mother drowning his brother. He is then next.
It then shifts to 1971 in Los Angeles. We see a single mother, Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini), as she is trying to get her children ready for school. Her son is Chris (Roman Christou) and daughter Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen). Their father was a police officer and was killed in the line of duty, so they are struggling to get by without him. The kids miss the school bus and she has to drive them. Anna is a social worker and she is typing up reports. Her boss tells her co-worker to take over one of her cases for a Hispanic woman. Anna fights with him to let her go, as the woman is suspicious and won't speak with the other woman.
Anna and a police officer go to the apartment. It belongs to Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez). Her sons have been missing school. They are found locked in a closet. They are taken into protective custody and Patricia is arrested.
That night things take a turn. Anna is woken up by a phone call. She goes to a river where both of the boys were drowned. We saw an entity, La Llorona, took them from the facility, but the mother is suspected. Anna has to bring her kids to the crime scene and tells Chris to stay in the car. He doesn't listen and encounters the entity as well.
The family is then haunted by this spirit and it starts to break their already shaky lifestyle. It gets to the point where Anna's work makes a visit, thinking she is abusing her children. She has to find help from her local priest, Father Perez (Tony Amendola). He believes her as he encountered the entity possessing the Annabelle doll. He tells her it will take time for the church to get involved and directs her to a former priest who does more folk healing, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz).
Now I want to lead off stating, what I was really interested in this film was the lore of La Llorona. I didn't know much about the history of this, but I'm always up to learn more about an entity I don't know much about. This one is interesting as when I heard about this film coming out that there are many films about this spirit. From posts on my social media, it seems that this film takes some liberties with it and that it has changed quite a bit. I think I might search out some of these films to see what is different and look more into this legend.
This film has an interesting concept in the job that Anna has. She is a social worker that deals with children that are in houses that could be high risk. I like the idea that the ghost is making those at her work question if she is abusing her own children. Being that she is a single mother, it could be that things have gotten to be too much. There is also an aspect of racism here. Anna was married to a man of Hispanic descent. She states she has built a rapport with them and the other worker is of Asian descent. I found this intriguing though, because Anna is Caucasian. She claims it is because she is a mother and not the ethic background. During this time period of enlightenment, it is good that it was pointed out.
I found this film to keep my attention throughout. It doesn't waste any time getting into the haunting and I feel that the film continues to build tension. The stakes continue to heighten as the spirit becomes stronger and stronger. It is actually an interesting curse that those that come in contact with it then have to deal. The climax of the film was pretty solid and Rafael is pretty funny in some of the things he says. Also the ending was pretty fitting for what the film was building toward as well.
The acting was also pretty solid as well. Cardellini is an actress that I grew up watching on the television show ER. I thought her as a mother in this film was good and it was a good choice to show her as she is trying to keep her family together with the death of her husband. She is also still quite attractive. I thought both Christou and Kinchen did a solid job. Children are really hit or miss for me; with these two I would say definitely the former. Cruz was good in this film as was Velasquez. I also liked Sean Patrick Thomas who was a detective who knew Anna's husband and Amendola was solid as the priest as well. I couldn't finish this section, without talking about Ramirez and her performance. I think she did a fine job and she had good look as the entity. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed as well.
The effects I was pleasantly surprised with how well they were done. There was quite a bit of CGI, but it looked pretty solid. They enhanced La Llorona with them and some of the things that she did. This film did rely a lot on jump-scares, which I'm not the biggest fan of. I do think they were some pretty effective ones in this. It was also shot very well. I was a big fan of the mirrors that were used to show some things. It is a motif it goes back to a few times. Not knowing the back-story might hurt me here, but she looks into them quite a bit and they crack. This is something I'll definitely look into and update accordingly.
Now with that said, this film I thought was pretty solid. It is about an entity I don't know much about and I think I will definitely look into, as it is an interesting concept. I have heard there were some liberties taken, which I'm actually interested in learning more about as well. It really needed to mesh into The Conjuring universe which is also part of it and I think it did well there. I thought the acting was good and the editing of the film was well. The effects were CGI heavy, but I didn't have any issues there. The soundtrack of the film really didn't stand out to me, but it also didn't hurt the film. I do think this is one of the better films in this universe and I found it to be above average overall. It is really a ghostly, but I don't think it is cheesy like many in this genre.
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