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The Curse of La Llorona is an American supernatural horror film directed by Michael Chaves and written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. Based on the Latin American folklore of La Llorona, the film stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas and Tony Amendola, follows a mother in 1973 Los Angeles who must save her children from a malevolent spirit who is trying to steal them. It is the sixth installment in The Conjuring Universe. James Wan is serving as a producer through his Atomic Monster Productions banner.

The Curse of La Llorona premiered at South by Southwest on March 15, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on April 19, 2019. It received negative reviews, with criticism aimed at its reliance on jump scares, and grossed $123 million worldwide against a budget of $9 million, becoming the lowest-grossing film in the Conjuring franchise, though still successful at the box office.

Synopsis

When Anna Garcia, a social worker and widow raising her two kids in 1973 Los Angeles, is called to check in on one of her cases, she finds signs of foul play. As she digs deeper, she finds striking similarities between the case and the terrifying supernatural occurrences haunting her family. Enlisting the help of a local faith healer, she discovers that La Llorona has latched herself onto Anna and will stop at nothing to take her children.

Plot

In 1673 Mexico, a family plays in a field, and the youngest son gives his mother a necklace. The boy closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them, his family is missing. The boy finds his mother drowning his brother in a stream. Horrified, he runs away but his mother catches him and seemingly drowns him too.

300 years later, in 1973 Los Angeles, Hispanic caseworker Anna Tate-Garcia investigates the disappearance of client Patricia Alvarez's two children. Anna arrives at Patricia's house for a welfare check. Inside, she finds the children locked behind a door, and Patricia attacks her and is taken away by the police. Patricia's children, brothers Carlos and Tomas, tell Anna to keep them in the room so they are protected. Ignoring their warnings, she brings the boys to the police. At a child services shelter, Tomas sleepwalks numbly through the facility and Carlos follows him until Tomas points to a mirror where both boys see a woman clad in a white dress. The mirror cracks and the woman grabs Carlos.

Anna is called to investigate the deaths of the boys, found drowned in a river. Bringing her children Chris and Sam, she tells them to stay in the car while she investigates the murder scene. She hears Patricia, accused of her sons' murders, screaming that it was Anna's fault for taking her sons, and that Patricia had tried to stop the malevolent force of the woman in white, "La Llorona".

Chris leaves the car to investigate himself and is seized by La Llorona, leaving burn marks on his arm. He rushes back to the car, but La Llorona appears again and frightens him into shock. The next day, Sam is also grabbed by the spirit, leaving identical burn marks on her arm. Anna interviews Patricia, who has an alibi for the time of her sons' deaths and tells her about La Llorona. Patricia reveals that in her hatred for Anna, she prayed to La Llorona to take Anna's children and bring her own boys back. Anna encounters La Llorona when the spirit attempts to drown Sam in the bathtub. She saves Sam, and the ghost leaves burn marks on Anna's arm too. The next morning, Anna seeks help from Father Perez, who relates the case to his previous experiences with a haunted porcelain doll. Perez tells Anna about former priest Rafael Olvera, who can help get rid of the entity. Rafael arrives at Anna's house, setting up candles and other items to protect the family. In the night, La Llorona repeatedly attacks them and attempts to drown Anna and Sam in the pool.

Patricia arrives, attempting to give Anna's children to La Llorona in exchange for her own. Sam and Chris flee while Anna pleads with Patricia in the basement; Patricia comes to her senses and releases Anna, allowing her to help her children. Chris delays La Llorona by showing her a necklace Anna took off of her in the pool, which makes La Llorona briefly assume her human appearance. Sam then accidentally unveils a mirror which takes La Llorona out of her human appearance and proceeds to attack the children. Anna stabs her through the chest with a cross made from a Fire Tree – trees that grew by the river where La Llorona drowned her children, the only 'witness' to her crime – and the spirit is destroyed.

Anna and her children thank Rafael for his help; as the children run back into the house, Anna sees what looks like a puddle of tears.

Cast

Production

On October 9, 2017, it was announced that New Line Cinema would distribute a horror film directed by Michael Chaves, with James Wan and It and Annabelle writer Gary Dauberman serving as producers. Then titled The Children, in July 2018, the film was renamed The Curse of La Llorona. In October 2017, Linda Cardellini was cast to play a single mother and the lead character. It was also announced that Sean Patrick Thomas and Raymond Cruz would co-star in the film.

After the first trailer's release, it was revealed that Tony Amendola was returning as Father Perez, last seen in the film Annabelle. The character gives direction to the family being tormented by the titular spirit and relates the haunting to his experiences with the demonic entity attached to the doll. In March 2019, it was revealed that The Curse of La Llorona is part of the Conjuring Universe, making it the sixth installment in the franchise.

Principal photography on the film wrapped in November 2017.

Release

The Curse of La Llorona was theatrically released in the United States and several other territories on April 19, 2019, by Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema. It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 15, 2019. The studio spent an estimated $35–40 million on domestic advertisements for the film.

The Curse of La Llorona was released on Digital HD on July 16, 2019, and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 6, 2019.

Reception

Box Office

The Curse of La Llorona grossed $54.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $68.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $123.1 million, against a production budget of $9 million, becoming the lowest-grossing film in the Conjuring franchise. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $45.6 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Under the Silver Lake and was projected to gross $15–17 million from 3,372 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $11.8 million on its first day, including $2.75 million from Thursday night previews, and went on to over-perform, grossing $26.5 million in its opening weekend and topping the box office; 49% of the opening weekend audience was Hispanic. In its second weekend, the film fell 69.5% to $8 million, finishing third.

Critical Response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 28% based on 186 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Content to coast on jump scares rather than tap into its story's creepy potential, The Curse of La Llorona arrives in theaters already broken." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it 2.5 out of 5 stars and a "definite recommend" of 48%.

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2019 California on Location Awards Location Manager of the Year – Studio Feature Film Adam Robinson Nominated
Golden Trailer Awards Best Horror Poster The Curse of La Llorona Nominated
MTV Movie & TV Awards Most Frightened Performance Linda Cardellini Nominated

Trailers

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