Curse of the Weeping Woman might be the last Conjuring Universe film I see

One of the longest-standing legends in American folklore, the tale of La Llorona, gets its own horror film from the producers of The Conjuring. Once a believer in the potential of The Conjuring Universe, critic Aaron Yap feels this insubstantial cheapie might be the last one he puts up with.

Unless an extraordinary lift in quality control is instated, perhaps prioritising things like fresh ideas and a reason to care, The Curse of the Weeping Woman might be my last excursion into the non-James-Wan-directed reaches of so-called The Conjuring Universe. Whatever initial excitement I had about the franchise’s lofty ambitions to weave a decades-spanning tapestry of interconnected supernatural stories and characters has now been dulled into a stupor of indifference.

Narratively almost indistinguishable from last year’s The Nun, Weeping Woman is a prime example of stock-standard that’s sometimes even more difficult to endure than something that’s breathtakingly bad. It’s a bummer really, as the Mexican folklore it’s based on—the child-drowning apparition known as La Llorona—intrigues, and could have made for a rich, elegant, atmospheric horror flick, instead of this insubstantial cheapie.

Thus far, it’s the one with the least connective tissue to the universe. Apart from an appearance by Annabelle’s Father Perez (Tony Amendola), serving as exposition-dumper giving us a crash course in La Llorona’s origins, Weeping Woman lacks the gimmicky distraction of joining-the-dots, which means all attention is drawn, rather unfavourably, towards its desiccated corpse of a story. Linda Cardellini, always reliable even in the most average of fare, deserves better, while Raymond Cruz’s show-stealing grizzled, sardonic shaman deserves his own movie.

Director Michael Chaves’ attempts to juice up the tired beats with Wan-like kineticism falls flat, his reliance on endless, arbitrary jump scares gradually elicit more boredom than frights. There doesn’t seem to be any interest here beyond making a quick buck—and it doesn’t even come with any indication of a satisfying pay-off in sight. Not even a powerful, stone-collecting purple dude waiting to be defeated, or something.