Mr. Movie

Mr. Movie: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ looks a lot like every other Conjuring universe movie

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Marisol Ramirez in a scene from "The Curse of La Llorona."
This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Marisol Ramirez in a scene from "The Curse of La Llorona." Associated Press

‘The Curse of La Llorona’

“The Curse of La Llorona” is part of the Conjuring universe. For those not familiar with the series, it stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. In those two films they played true-life paranormal investigators who’ve wandered the world chasing demons harassing ordinary people.

The flick’s producers have spun other films off from there. “The Nun” and a soon-to-be-sequel, “Annabelle,” its sequel and another scheduled to come out in June of this year.

A third “Conjuring” is also in the works.

Now we have “The Curse of La Llorona.” It is a stand-alone movie but ties into the Conjuring universe via a reference to “Annabelle.” The priest from that film explains the curse of La Llorona to Linda Cardellini’s clueless social worker.

Here’s the — if you can call it that — plot. Cardillini (“Green Book”) plays Anna. Her meddling with a woman trying to protect her children from the cursed demon causes those children to be drowned.

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Linda Cardinelli in a scene from "The Curse of La Llorona." Associated Press

That’s what La Llorona does. She drowns kids.

La Llorona’s curse began in Mexico the 1600s when her husband cheated on her. To get even she drowned their children. Regretting what she did, La Llorona spent the next few centuries as a ghost drowning other children hoping they’d replace hers.

Or some such mumbo-jumbo.

Anna’s meddling gets the curse passed on to her and her children. That so-called horror looks boringly like everything else done in the Conjuring series. So don’t expect anything fresh. By the way, the “boringly” comes with a capital B.

As bad as that is, what’s worse is how “The Curse of La Llorona” got made. It may be the product of the experienced Conjuring team but they turned the project over to beginners. Director Michael Chaves does his first major motion picture. His only other experience is creating and directing Nickelodeon’s “Chase Champion” mini-series in 2015.

The film’s writers are Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis whose only writing experience is to put pen to “Five Feet Apart.” That teen-romance-focused disease of the week flick is still in area theaters.

As just noted, the script — and Chaves’ film — looks exactly like its cousins. As Anna and her children deal with the ghostly demon, the camera slowly follows them through the house. First it’s from behind and then from in front. Doors open. Windows open. They bang, floors creak.

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Roman Christou, left, and Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen in a scene from "The Curse of La Llorona." Associated Press

The characters whip open a door to a loud sound or bang and — of course — nothing is there. Then they turn around and — presto — there’s something. In this case, it’s a ready to pounce, white-faced La Llorona. Of course, she misses a lot and the pouncing never quite works out. If it did then you’d have a five-minute movie.

Actually, these films — and this one — are so awful, that a five-minute movie is not a bad idea.

Alas, “The Curse of La Llorona” gives you a watch-checking 90-minutes of death-dodging about the house. At the end of the formulaic 90-minutes, the expected conclusion is reached and credits roll. Predictably — and this one is as predictable as any horror movie you’ll ever see — you catch a glimpse of the ghostly La Llorona once in awhile. When you do, she’s not all that terrifying.

Neither is her movie.

What is terrifying about the whole thing is people shelling out large sums of money to see this piece of predictable crap. Worse than worse is the make-no-doubt-about-it sequel — or sequels — “The Curse of La Llorona” will produce.

▪ Rated R for violence and mature themes. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

▪ Rating: 1 out of 5