Reviewed by Caitlyn Grey
If you’re looking for your next favorite James Wan horror film, you’ve come to the wrong place. The Haunting of La Llorona, which is a completely different film from The Curse of La Llorona, follows the divergent stories of Cassandra (Kaylin Zeren) and Father Gomez (Orlando McNary) in a classic past-meets-present storyline. After an unnamed woman enters the home of Cassandra and her boyfriend, Chadwick (Tyler Coleman) she attacks both homeowners. This led to an anticlimactic fight, which ended with the woman’s demise but not before she addressed herself as La Llorona. With the spirit of La Llorona without a home, the demon lingers in the household, tortures Chadwick, and attempts to find a new home within Cassandra.
With her actions influenced by the spirit of La Llorona, Cassandra finds her daily runs interrupted by vile men in an alley near Tent City. After a close call with one of these men, Cassandra is saved by Tiffany (Diana Acevedo), a young homeless woman. With Chadwick busy traveling for work and Cassandra paranoid by the recent death in her home, she invites Tiffany to stay with her and possibly move in. The two become best friends after an unknown amount of time, assumed to be within hours. It is at this point that Cassandra reveals the truth behind her invitation—the paranormal happenings that have been going on for the past few days. Tiffany lets Cassandra know that she knows someone who can help, the washed-up priest, Father Gomez, who is at first adverse to helping the women. Throughout the duration of the film, Father Gomez’ past with La Llorona is revealed. He ignored Jennifer (Laura Dromerick), a woman from his congregation, when she asked for his help and protection from La Llorona. The constant plague of Jennifer’s restless spirit eventually leads Father Gomez to exorcise the demon taking control of Cassandra’s life.
I say that, overall, The Haunting of La Llorona did the best with what they had. The writing, while at times had great potential, was riddled with clichés and try-hard one-liners. The part that really lost me in this film was the subpar acting and editing. I found that, somehow, the actors simultaneously overacted and under-acted. Certain times, like when tension was supposed to be building, the actors would over-annunciate words and body movements, which read to me more like a dramatic high school play. At other times, though, the actors would appear dull and unbelievable with their actions and cadence. In terms of editing, there seemed to be an exorbitant number of repetitive scenes and random jump cuts. All in all, the first three-quarters of the film played out more like mini–segments that were sliced and dicedthan the plot of a film. However, these pieces eventually led to the tie-in of all the scenes at the very end.
Now for the part that everyone wants to know about a horror movie; how scary is The Haunting of La Llorona? Honestly, it wasn’t scary at all. I was able to watch this at night while home alone with absolutely zero negative feelings during or afterward. I’d say one of the major reasons for it not being scary, in addition to the lack of suspense or tension throughout the film, is that within the first two minutes we got our first glimpse of La Llorona (Mari Mijangos). Sadly, the only thing scary about the character is the elementary makeup effects and wardrobe. In terms of horror, I’ll give The Haunting of La Llorona 0 possessed dolls out of 5.
In general, I’ll give this film 2.8 stars out of 5. It was a boldmove to release a film so close to the James Wan film release, with such a similar title. Even with the daring move in mind, The Haunting of La Llorona completely missed the mark for me.
If you want to check out this film for yourself, you can watch it for free with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Caitlyn Grey is a horror and suspense author who loves all things creepy. Her first novel, Lost Girls, debuted early this year, with a second novel expected to be released this upcoming fall. As a lover of what most would find obscure, Grey prides herself on her unique and quirky personality. She credits her love for all things horror and paranormal to all of the Stephen King, Wes Craven, and Edgar Allan Poe works she started experiencing at the tender age of eight. While most children her age were playing with friends, she was making up stories of shadow figures appearing at the foot of a child’s bed in the middle of the night. The rest, as the story goes, is history. Now, fifteen years later, Grey has devoted her life to scaring the next generation, as her idols had for her.