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The Curse of La Llorona (Blu-ray Review)

The timeless Hispanic legend comes to terrifying life in “The Curse of La Llorona.” She is The Weeping Woman and those who hear her death call in the night are doomed. She creeps in the shadows and preys on the children, desperate to replace her own. In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night—and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.

 

Film 

The Curse of La Llorona is the latest horror film offering from James Wan and company. This adaptation of the famous Mexican folklore tale is directed by Michael Chaves. The story involves a beautiful Mexican mother of two, who murders her children due to her vanity and scorn. She is cursed to roam the Earth in search of other children to take the place of her own children.

In 1973, Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardinelli) is a Los Angeles social worker sent in to investigate and check on the welfare of a couple local kids. Upon discovering that the children’s mother has them locked in a closet, with the outer door painted up with occultist incantations, Anna unleashes powers beyond her comprehension. She unleashes La Llorona, or as she would be called in English translations, The Weeping Woman. The children are cursed once her spirit is freed and all hell breaks loose on the streets of Los Angeles. Seeking the help of a local curandero, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz), against his better judgement, agrees to help the family. He’s the Mexican version of a shaman, so he’s got a few tricks up his sleeves against the banshee.

To say that I was anxious to catch The Curse of La Llorona on the big screen would be an understatement. Being Mexican-American, I grew up with La Llorona, although I was not threatened with her wrath if I misbehaved. In my case, my folks said that if I misbehaved then the “Cucuy” would get me, which is our version of the Boogeyman. In any event, La Llorona has finally made her debut on Blu-ray and she’s quite spectacular in high definition.

Now, my score implies that I liked the film. Yes, I liked the film and I thought it was cool that one of our most popular folklore tales was made by a major Hollywood studio. My only issue was that, well, it should have had a bit more depth with regards to the folklore than what was presented. There’s an excellent prologue that starts the film off in 1673, and as the legend has it, La Llorona was wronged by her husband and left for a younger and more beautiful woman. This should have been expanded on. It was not. The film plays it safe, but since there are several scenes that show and imply violence towards children, I can see how it earned its R-rating. I think trying to connect this film with the Conjuring-verse may have hurt it just a tad bit. I believe it should have been its own entity completely separated from that universe.

As a standard horror film, it’s fine, and I did appreciate the scenes of folks speaking Spanish and not having that be subtitled. If you don’t speak Spanish, I doubt it will make much difference, because folks should be able to follow along without a problem. There’s also a popular children’s lullaby that opens and closes the film that I thought was a great touch to include in the film since it was quite haunting in terms of how it was mixed. Even with its faults and all – The Curse of La Llorona is worth a view.

 

 

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: The Curse of La Llorona looks terrific on Blu-ray. Contrast and sharpness levels are impeccable and no tinkering was present with regards to those levels.

Depth: The Blu-ray image maintains that pop even though the film is dark and somewhat dreary. The film takes place in 1973 and it has never looked this good. It’s not a necessarily grimy environment, however, but the Blu-ray does have a bit of polish to it. It’s a near-reference presentation, in my opinion.

Black Levels: The shadows and darkness is where the majority of the film takes place. Black levels are deep and inky, with no signs of crush.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is heavily muted, with a few scenes taking place in a colorful flashback, with a couple of more scenes taking place in the daytime in 1973 Los Angeles.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are strong and flush with color unless you’re talking about the antagonist.

Noise/Artifacts: The Curse of La Llorona on Blu-ray was noise, artifact, and debris-free. I did not detect any instances of post-production manipulation on the disc.

 

Audio

Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The 5.1 lossless soundtrack delivers the goods in this horror film. These type of films get dumped sometimes due to the cliche of a jump scare. Well, this lossless soundtrack delivers those scares along with a near-reference presentation. I just speak of the 5.1 lossless

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE-subwoofer channel does most of the heavy lifting. Bone crunches, growls and everything else that goes “bump” in the night are in service to the phenomenal low-end presented on this Blu-ray.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround-sound channels keep the proceedings nice and eerie. Lots of supernatural scares populate the rear channels to great effect.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clear and distinct – everyone’s screams of terror could be heard in all of their unholy glory!

 

Extras

The extras are light, and that seems to be the pattern. A true nitty-gritty in-depth on the folklore would have been more appreciated, but instead we’re given a cliff-notes version from the filmmakers. I think the deleted scenes are the best part of the film due to how much was cut for pacing and it showed you how much walking La Lllorona did. I can see they wanted to convey that a ghost does not walk – it just appears.

  • The Myth of La Llorona
  • Behind the Curse
  • The Making of a Movie Monster
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboards
  • DVD
  • Digital Code

Summary 

It’s taken many years to get a nicely budgeted film based on the legendary Mexican folktale. Does it always fire on all gears? No. The film could have used a bit more depth and even had a bit more showcased as far as the origin goes. Outside of that, it fits as a nice little “Conjuringverse” snippet. The Blu-ray has great video and audio, with just a smidgen of extras. Beware, The Curse of La Llorona!

 

 

The Curse of La Llorona is now available

on Blu-ray & DVD!

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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