Based on the Mexican folklore of La Llorona, the film tells the story of the Weeping Woman, a spectre who haunts children. Legend has it that she drowned her own kids and was stricken with guilt and grief, and now looks for others to make her own. The story centres around a widow, Anna (Linda Cardellini) and her two children as they become the latest victims and seek the guidance of a local faith healer who has crossed La Llorona's path before. With the help of unconventional religious practices and mysticism, they pull out every trick in the book to banish her.
This is a very poor excuse for a horror movie and its only saving grace is the fact that it's nowhere near as awful as the previous entry, The Nun. Series creator James Wan is on board as producer and although he had no hand in writing this one, his influence is evident nonetheless. In fact first-time director Michael Chaves is so focused on recreating Wan's Conjuring aesthetic that he disregards the narrative entirely, and what he serves up is a cocktail of random flavours. Astute horror fans will recognise familiar moments from other films creeping into the story, such as Evil Dead, Demon Knight and even Warlock for example, and then the rest of the running time is bogged down with painfully inept attempts at suspense. You know what I'm talking about... floor-level camera angles tracking towards big doors, lengthy moments of silence to signal impending jump-scares, and the overused 'she's behind you' trope. The movie is saturated with this stuff and none of it works.
Actress Linda Cardellini - who is best known as Thelma from James Gunn's two Scooby Doo movies, as well as Freaks and Geeks – has had a prolific few years with substantial roles in Green Book, A Simple Favour and Hunter Killer, as well as the upcoming Avengers Endgame, and there is no doubt that her lead role in THE CURSE OF THE WEEPING WOMAN is a significant notch in her professional belt. She is establishing herself as a familiar face and a go-to actress and her on-screen presence is appealing. She delivers a reliable turn as the protective mother to her haunted children, however with an uninspired script and lack of direction she's given very little to do. The kids are decent enough and play the victims well, but the movie's constant attempts to scare the audience dominate the running time, leaving little dialogue to help the players solidify their characters. Raymond Cruz stars as the faith healer who helps the family rid themselves of the curse. Unfortunately his part relies on the audience's knowledge of his Breaking Bad character and is poorly conceived. It's never clear whether his character is supposed to be serious or comical, and – in fact – he comes off like a cross between Max von Sydow's Father Merrin from The Exorcist and William Sadler's Brayker character from Demon Knight.
Suffice to say, THE CURSE OF THE WEEPING WOMAN is a shambles and is an ineffective chapter in the Conjuring franchise. It is a horror movie for people who think they like horror, but actually don't. In other words, it's entry-level stuff and not worthy being a 6th instalment in a well-established cinematic universe. With The Nun and this title going back-to-back, all hopes rest on the upcoming Annabelle Comes Home and The Conjuring 3...