There’s something to be said about both of them so I’m including them in this episode. One is an attempt to cash in on a timeless Mexican legend. The other is a crime horror thriller that chronicles the abduction for ransom of a female character played by the always beautiful Gemma Arterton.
The Curse of La Llorona (2019) and The Disappearance of Alice Creed (2009) are two films I saw last week. These films are not related in any way other than the fact that I recently watched them. I’m presenting these as previews so there won’t be spoilers.
The Curse of La Llorona seemed to appear as a movie out of nothing. There were a few trailers in the past few months but for me, a person who knows the legend very well, it seemed as if it would take a year or more of trailers to introduce such a earthquake of culture. I recall the year of trailers we got for Disney’s “Coco.” That film brought the world the “Day of the Dead” tradition from Mexico and South America. I got riled up with excitement watching Coco trailers with the bone mariachis and merch I’ve seen down in Los Angeles sold on the streets next to the churros and taco stands. Fun stuff. Eerie stuff.
Hispanic culture is focused on family and often spritual and frightening tales. (expand)
I had heard through the years of the ceremony where the living relatives place the cooked dishes on the graves of their deceased loved ones. I was told many times of the aroma, so delicious at midnight. After all the advertising and teasers, Coco pulled it off! We now have a cinematic time capsule that will always display this tradition, this folklore, this legend “The Day of the Dead.” El Dia de los Muertos. I can’t accuse Disney of seeking a cash grab from all the hispanic Americans across the landscape because the product is beautiful. It is something inspired, it’s not a racket or a marketing scam. I’ll say it again, Coco is beautiful. But as you might expect by my intro, I’m not as impressed with “The Curse of La Llorona.” In my 18 years of teaching, I’ve taught any English Learners. Specifically, I’ve taught students who speak Spanish as their first language. I’ve seen many kids write at Halloween about this legend and it’s come up in class on various topics but mostly in culture and folklore aspects of social studies. Students have revealed a genuine respect and fear of this legend.
Ghost story I heard once closing up a Pizza Hut.
Before I ever taught and as a Pizza Hut shift manager, the night cook shared with me the legend. He told me with frightened eyes about how he had seen a bright light speed past his family in the cemetery at midnight. He was sure it was the ghost of La Llorona. As it turns out, that one story I recall from my early 20’s would have made a better movie than this new film. Every show is currently sold out at my local theater. That’s how it was when I went as well. But at the end, no one clapped. Let’s have a quick look at why, in my humble opinion.
Here’s a nonspoiler summary this film: “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.”
The director is Michael Chaves who has only up to now directed shorts. He also is the director of the Conjuring 3 which will come out in 2020. Whatever happened to waiting to see how a director does on a new concept before granting him a modern classic sequel like the Conjuring 3? I have to wonder what James Wan is thinking there. As you may know, James Wan did Saw, Insidious, and the Conjuring series. He’s become a giant in the horror world. Insidious is still one of my favorite horror films:
Expand why Insidious works,
But for me, this film doesn’t work. The only two holding this wobbly table up are Linda Cardellini (known as Velma on Scooby Doo) Raymond Cruz (Tuco on Breaking Bad). Cardellini gives a flat performance, not even showing the love for her children which seemingly would be an easy thing to show in the La Llorona universe. I blame the writing more than her.
Recommend or no? Why or why not? I think everyone who has known the legend should expect more from this film. It could have been a direct telling of the legend. I give it a 4/10.
Ok, enough of Mexican legend gone bad horror … Let’s move on to a female abduction crime thriller that gets a lot right!
The “Disappearance of Alice Creed” is a British film starring Gemma Atherton. She plays the pretty young daughter of a millionaire and she is kidnapped and held for ransom. The crime part of it is interesting.
Director is J Blakeson. He’s known for the 5th wave which I found slow and boring. He also directed “The Descent Part 2” which I found refreshingly good in spite of being a sequel to a horror film I really like.
Gemma Atherton has done a lot through the years and continues to. You might recall her from “The Girl With All the Gifts” or “Hansel and Gretel” the horror film.
The two men who abduct her are played by Eddie Marsan & Martin Compston. They are at times abominable and at others buffoons. Either way, they mean business and will stop at nothing to extract the ransom for Atherton’s character. I enjoyed the interplay between all three. There were times when she was alone with each one and the dialog makes it very interesting to see who is playing who. The cat and mouse game goes traditional ways but there may be a turn or two for fans of the genre to be surprised at. People may say I liked it for the nudity as well but I will always deny it!
This is a much better film than the other. If you like crime thrillers that show psychological battles, it may be for you. It’s def for me: I gave it 8/10.