“Father,” a middle-aged, petite Latina delicately asks an older priest as they huddle in a dimly-lit Catholic church, “What is…LA YOUR-RONA?” At this point I am sure the priest is thinking , Ok? This cute she can’t pronounce “La Yurrrrrona” but she seems legit freaked out so I guess I’ll give it to her straight … “THE WEEPING WOMAN,” the priest continues gravely, knowing that this Spanish Sally Field-type has probably already gotten herself into some crazy shit already if she’s coming to him of all people, asking about LA YOUR-RONA . “It’s a folktale,” the Sally Field lady comments offhandedly, as if to say, “Oh, like Cinderella or Paul Bunyan. That’s fine, then. I guess we can all go home now.” But the priest, with a knowing grimace, quips back, “……to some.” Ooooh, he said “TO SOME.” Mic dropped. Oh yes, lady, I thought to myself, you’re about to learn about La Llorona. You’re about to learn TODAY. So begins the trailer for the upcoming film, The Curse of The Llorona, hitting theaters on April 19th, 2019.
The Curse of The Llorona boasts a directorial debut by Michael Chaves, who will also be directing the upcoming Conjuring 3. The trailer for The Curse of The Llorona looked very Conjuring-esque, which is probably due to James Wan himself being a producer on The Curse of The Llorona. The premise of The Curse of The Llorona, judging from the trailer alone, seems to be that Anna Garcia, the Sally Field-ish protagonist, played by Italian-American actress Linda Cardellini (this may explain why there is no rolling R in the pronunciation of La Llorona), is investigating a case and comes across this legend of La Llorona. The trailer featured a couple of pretty anxiety-inducing scenes involving the ghost of La Llorona, face hidden, crying in a dark alley, then calling creepily out to Anna’s young son and another scene in which La Llorona is relentlessly pursuing both of Anna’s children while they remain helplessly trapped in an old car. I love the feel and pace of the trailer and I think the setting of the movie in the 1970s adds a nice retro flair to everything – it gives the movie kind of this The Exorcist or The Omen aura to it.
But who is La Llorona? No, she’s not something that exists solely in the Wan-universe of horror movies. In Latin American culture, La Llorona is the ghost of woman who lost her children (or baby, depending on who you hear the legend from) and now spends the rest of her life crying, often causing grave misfortune to those who hear her cries. I first heard about La Llorona while vacationing in New Mexico; my family took this vacation every summer, making the long, Griswald-family style road trip in a station wagon.
My uncles loved scaring us kids with tales of La Llorona as we all huddled near a bonfire under the wide New Mexico skies late at night. I’m pretty sure all of us kids were under 10 years old when my uncles recounted the legend of La Llorona and I’m pretty sure none of us kids slept those nights, either. And yes, I had freaked myself out so bad one night that I distinctly remember being 14 years old and hearing a horrible wailing sound outside of my window – I was sleeping at my grandma’s house in Albuquerque and my grandma had this freaky, black velvet painting of a crying Jesus hanging in the room, which made me even more jumpy and sleepless. After hearing the wailing (in retrospect, it was probably just the wind…right?), I remember thinking, AW HELL NAH, THERE’S A FRIGGIN LA LLORONA OUTSIDE OF MY DANG WINDOW, I AM SO NOT DYING TONIGHT, YA’LL, and getting my blankets and pillow and sleeping on my grandma’s couch till sunrise. Any kid who grew up with stories of La Llorona probably looked over their shoulder on a cold, windy walk home a night or two because, in the back of their minds, they were half-expecting to see the weeping woman in white standing there, ready to open her mouth wide and wail terribly at any moment.
For those of us Latinos who grew up with the legend of La Llorona (or El Cucuy even, but that is a topic for another day and maybe another movie), this trailer has gotten us pumped for good reason. Latinos have many legends, folktales and folklore that the mainstream media has largely ignored until recently – Disney’s Coco was a huge hit and a beautiful take on a piece of Latino folklore.
As a Hispanic woman myself, it has been nice to see movies like The Curse of The Llorona finally getting out there and getting some buzz around it. I had been following the production of The Curse of The Llorona since I first heard rumors of about a La Llorona movie getting made, and to finally see a trailer with a boost from James Wan is something to celebrate. Latinos who love horror are hoping this peek into Latino folklore with The Curse of The Llorona will do the genre justice and open the doors to learning about all kinds of creepy folklore from around the world that maybe we haven’t heard about before. We are also *kind of* hoping any non-Latinos who watch The Curse of The Llorona will end up looking over their shoulders on that cold, dark, windy walk home at night and maybe, just maybe, have that fear for a split second that the wild howl of the wind was actually the weeping woman in white, her cries forever wailing after her lost children. One can only hope the movie is that good this coming April.