Combustible Celluloid
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With: Autumn Reeser, Danny Trejo, Antonio Cupo, Josh Zaharia, Zamia Fandiño, Fernanda Aguilar, Edgar Wuotto, Nicolas Madrazo, Isabella Recio, Angélica Lara, Daniel Arias, Alejandra González, Mauricio Galaz, Arumi Morales
Written by: Jose Prendes, based on a story by Cameron Larson
Directed by: Patricia Harris Seeley
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language
Running Time: 98
Date: 01/07/2022

The Legend of La Llorona (2022)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Weeping and Failing

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This cheesy horror tale, which cashes in on a monster made famous in bigger-budget movies (The Curse of La Llorona and La Llorona), glides confidently into the "so-bad-it's-good" realm, making ill-advised choices in nearly every capacity.

The Candlewood family takes a trip to Mexico to recover from the death of their baby daughter. Andrew (Antonio Cupo) wants to move on, while Carly (Autumn Reeser) is still dealing with her grief. Their young son, Danny (Nicolas Madrazo) is along as well. Cab driver Jorge (Danny Trejo) takes the family under his wing as he drops them at a beautiful villa, run by Veronica (Angélica Lara).

It's not long before the family notices the presence of tough-looking men, possibly cartel, as well as an alarming number of "missing children" flyers. Then, Carly encounters a strange, ghostly figure in the canal nearby. Not long after, Danny disappears.

A good place to start is the way The Legend of La Llorona appropriates Mexican culture, not only borrowing the monster, but also focusing on its white family, and viewing the Latino characters as either "bad men" or helpful servants or side characters. (The main female character is adopted and may or may not be of Latino descent, but she doesn't speak Spanish and identifies as white.)

Even if we choose to forgive that, other issues in The Legend of La Llorona include the sub-par performances (with the exception of Danny Trejo; he's still cool). Cupo makes husband Andrew seem especially abrasive and pushy, and not exactly the most sympathetic character. But even the performers who can manage to deliver a line can't get around the dumb story and poor dialogue and decision-making, especially the fact that young Danny gets taken by La Llorona three times.

The low-rent digital effects round things out, from blobby looking blood to a "menacing" scarf that slithers through the water. La Llorona herself merely cackles and snarls at the camera, recalling little Gage in Pet Sematary (1989), and being not scary at all.

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