THE LEGEND OF LA LLORONA -- An Embarrassing Low-Budget Supernatural Horror Milking a Horrific Folk Tale for Cheap Scares
Review by Sean Boelman
Folklore can often provide strong source material for horror films, as there are a great deal of terrifying stories passed down over generations. However, The Legend of La Llorona has only the most rudimentary understanding of its inspiration, causing it to become yet another atrocious low-budget horror flick.
The movie follows a family vacationing in Mexico when their young son disappears in what may be connected to a supernatural curse of local legend. Ultimately, it’s about as threadbare as they come in terms of story, with the intelligence of a class project written by a sixth grader in their first year of Spanish class… but what can one expect of a writing team whose most notable credits are Hallmark rom-coms and Asylum-level knock-offs?
One of the worst things about the film is its dialogue. The script is embarrassingly written, with Mexican characters that are dangerously close to being racist stereotypes. They speak in broken English and Spanglish (that is actually just an occasional common Spanish word slipped into an English sentence) that is insultingly clumsy.
As one would expect, there isn’t much more substance to the character development. All of the Mexican characters are underdeveloped and the protagonists are pretty detestable. And while it’s cathartic to an extent to see the white characters get what they deserve for invading another culture, the audience will have no emotional attachment to the movie.
The film doesn’t even attempt to explore the meaning of La Llorona as a myth in Latin American cultures, and that may be more of a blessing than a drawback because they absolutely would have fumbled it had they tried. Instead, what we get is an ultra-generic super horror flick that turns the fable into one of a meaningless ghost.
B-movie regular Danny Trejo is the most recognizable name in the cast, and while his typical brand of wackiness is usually enough to add at least a bit of energy to the mix, everything he does here is so exaggerated and unmemorable that it makes little difference. And the rest of the cast is equally embarrassing in their roles.
Low-budget horror movies are a dime a dozen, but the ones that end up getting attention are those which make the most out of their constraints. That is not the case here, as the movie swings much bigger than it has the means to pull off. The CGI looks terrible, the monster effects are lackluster, and every scare is delivered via generic means.
The Legend of La Llorona is the latest attempt and failure at making a horror movie out of the well-known Latin American myth, with nearly offensive results. It’s one of the first movies of 2022, and it’s also one of the first movies of the year that you should absolutely skip.
The Legend of La Llorona hits theaters on January 7 and VOD on January 11.