There are so many of them that it’s difficult to keep up. Movies, I mean. And they can be an expensive habit. As some readers may know, I’ve followed The Conjuring franchise pretty much from the beginning. That particular film was long anticipated (at least in certain circles), but still I waited until it was available for home viewing to see it. I always feel kind of selfish going to the movies on my own since they are a kind of event—a form of social outing. For me, however, horror movies are research, but that hasn’t taken away the thrill of seeing one on the big screen once in a while. The Conjuring branched off into the Annabelle movies, and I caught the latest offering in the latter series in a theater. I hadn’t realized that The Curse of La Llorona had been released a couple months earlier, and that it was being considered part of the diegesis. It was back to the small screen to catch up.
La Llorona is based on a Mexican folktale and is tied to the other films in its universe by a character who recurs from Annabelle, Fr. Perez. He’s not the protagonist, but he does introduce one way in which horror responds to the present insanity we call the US government—the character who defeats the fiend is hispanic. In fact, most of the characters in the film are from hispanic families in Los Angeles. They take down the ghost without the assistance of border guards or any kind of wall. They don’t need the simpering help of the GOP. Like most of the movies in this franchise, however, they do make use of religion.
When Fr. Perez can’t offer immediate help to the family beset by La Llorona (“the weeping woman”), he points them to a local shaman. In this otherwise Catholic world, the truly amazing outcome is that the faith healer does possess the knowledge and ability to stop the evil. While the backstory of the ghost is well known, the nature of the entity is a bit unclear. Most Conjuring films feature a demonic presence, so it’s kind of a relief to have a garden variety ghost for a change. You see, when Ed and Lorraine Warren challenge entities in these movies they do so with religious accoutrements which tend not to fail. Ghosts, however, traditionally don’t require a religious banishment. We’re entering new territory here, of course. And I hadn’t even known about this film until after I’d seen its predecessor. How can you hope to keep up with spirits? It’s a full-time job.