The Devil Made Me Go See ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,’ But Not the Devil Referenced in the Title

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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube Screenshot)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant, Shannon Kook

Director: Michael Chaves

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: June 4, 2021 (Theaters and HBO Max)

Can a horror franchise be comfort food? It certainly can be for weirdos like me. Especially if the franchise in question is The Conjuring Universe. Whenever I see Vera Farmiga and Pat Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, it’s like checking in with old friends. (I’m also pleased to see Shannon Kook return as their assistant Drew!) They confront some evil, and we know they’re going to defeat it eventually – there’s no tension there! The appeal is seeing them being endlessly supportive of each other. There’s also some familiar comfort with my old Fringe buddy John Noble swinging by. And while I’m not too familiar with the rest of the cast, perhaps I will be someday, and we can then look back and laugh about all those times we slayed those demons!

Grade: Enough Evil, Could Have Used Slightly More Romance (Even Though There’s Plenty)

Movie Review: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Puts Mexican Folklore to Some Scary Good Use

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Starring: Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez, Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen, Roman Christou, Marisol Ramirez, Sean Patrick Thomas, Tony Amendola

Director: Michael Chaves

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rating: R for Intense Horror Makeup, Drowning, Skin Burns, and Some Gunshots

Release Date: April 19, 2019

It’s generally promising when a horror movie grounds itself in some well-crafted folklore, and The Curse of La Llorona offers a bit of an emotional doozy. Originating in Mexico, the tale of La Llorona (“The Weeping Woman” in English) is of a mother who drowned her two sons after becoming enslaved by a blind rage from discovering her husband with another woman. She now lurks the spirit world in a white gown, taking other children as her own and often drowning them as well. A notice posted by the studio outside the theater assured me that La Llorona is indeed somewhere out in the real world. You don’t have to believe in ghosts to accept that as effective showmanship. This is a monster with a formidable motivation, enough to make you go, “Well, what are we going to do if she targets us?”

The standoff comes to Linda Cardellini as a widowed mother working as a social worker in 1973 Los Angeles. She first encounters La Llorona through her work with children living in unsafe homes. If you want to, you can dig into the subtext about the entanglement of domestic abuse and folklore. But this film is more about the surface thrills of discovering just how the boogeyman will pop up when someone closes a bathroom cabinet or opens up an umbrella. If you’re looking for camera tricks that say “Boo!”, La Llorona will scratch that itch. It also excels in some surprisingly goofy tension-breaking, especially when Raymond Cruz (Tuco of Breaking Bad) shows up as an ex-priest mystic man to exorcise some evil spirits by rubbing eggs all over the house. Weirdly enough, that moment makes sense in context. Bottom line: La Llorona efficiently pulls off its weirder-than-expected approach with a confident use of the standard horror toolkit.

The Curse of La Llorona is Recommended If You Like: Mama, Annabelle, The power of the crucifix

Grade: 3 out of 5 White Gowns