Friday, January 07, 2022

The Legend of La Llorona, Starring Danny Trejo

The mournful La Llorona lady ghost was the subject of the first Mexican horror movie, Ramon Peon’s La Llorona, so it is clearly deeply rooted in their national folklore. Unlike previous incarnations, this weeping woman did not kill her own child, but she is still supernaturally angry and looking to take out her wrath on the children of others. Unfortunately, when the Candlewoods check into their riverside B&B, they basically deliver their sad little boy Danny into her ghostly hands in Patricia Harris Seeley’s The Legend of La Llorona, which opens today in New York.

You know this Mexican town is rough when Jorge, the cabbie from the airport, keeps warning the Candlewoods to never, ever leave Veronica’s comfortable casa. Then their hostess has a mild panic attack when she sees they have a child. However, that does not deter the parents from sampling the local hotspot, where they have a run-in with unsavory cartel types, but fortunately the grizzled Jorge is there to intercede (he is played by Danny Trejo, so hopefully they tipped him well).

Tragically, Carly Candlewood is still reeling from the stillborn death of their infant daughter. Unfortunately, she has subsequently been withdrawn and impatient with Danny, only realizing her error after La Llorona spirits him away. With the help of Veronica and Jorge, the Candlewoods will temporarily recover him, but La Llorona just keeps coming back.

It is debatable which is more unintentionally humorous in
Legend, the clunky dialogue or the sight of characters blasting away at the wraith-like La Llorona specter with large shotguns. At least it seems to slow her down a bit, even if it doesn’t make much sense.

Of course, Trejo is compulsively watchable as hard-nosed Jorge. Frankly, he is pretty much the only properly entertaining aspect of the film. Unfortunately, the Candlewoods are a dumb and dull lot. However, they seem like models of horror movie competence compared to the short-lived characters of the prologue, who literally say “stay right here, I’ll be right back” three or four times in a five-minute span. Okay, good luck with that.

To give credit where it is due, there is some nicely creepy set and production design work, especially the isle of tormented dolls. It looks pretty good, but the people and all their talking do the film no favors. Not recommended,
The Legend of La Llorona opens today (1/7) in New York, at the Cinema Village.