Fresh off the blockbuster success of Aquaman, director James Wan has produced a upcoming film that returns to his horror roots. And judging by the latest trailer, The Curse of La Llorona will offer chills aplenty in the same spirit as his Conjuring and Insidious franchises.
The titular ghost La Llorona (which translates as “The Weeping Woman”) is based on Latin American folklore; there are many variants, but the film seems to be based on the Mexican version. A beautiful young woman named Maria marries into a wealthy family, and because her new in-laws disapprove of the match, the newlyweds build a home in her rural village. She bears her man two sons, but he eventually abandons her for a younger woman. A distraught Maria drowns the boys in a blind rage and then drowns herself.
For this crime, she is barred from the afterlife. She is condemned to spend eternity looking for her lost sons, trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her constant weeping is why she is called La Llorona, and legend has it that, if you her wailing, you will have bad fortune and possibly die. La Llorona also kidnaps children wandering alone at night, mistaking them for her dead sons, and she is said to drown those children, too, all while begging for forgiveness.
Directed by Michael Chaves, the film looks like it will be a pretty straightforward interpretation of the legend. Social worker Anna Garcia (Linda Cardellini of Green Book) is a widow raising two children in 1970s Los Angeles. One of her cases involves another mother, Patricia (Patricia Velasquez), whose two young children are tragically killed. Patricia seems to blame Anna for their deaths (“It’s all your fault!”) and warns that the mythical La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez) will soon come for Anna’s children too.
As Anna delves deeper into Patricia’s case, she notices similarities with odd occurrences in her own home, and she realizes the other woman was right: her children are being hunted by a ghost. She enlists the help of a priest and some local faith healers to drive the ghost away. The glimpses we get of La Llorona are in keeping with the myths: she wears a long white gown with a veil. We don’t hear her wailing, but we do see her skulking behind curtains and snatching at the little boy’s feet, and her gnarled dead hands grab Anna and throwing her against the wall.
In the most chilling scene, those same hands wash Anna’s daughter’s hair in the bathtub before pushing her down into the water. All in all, The Curse of La Llorona promises some effective jump scares and a compelling mythology, so it should satisfy fans of Wan’s earlier horror movies.
The Curse of La Llorona hits theaters April 19.
Listing image by New Line Cinema