Written by Cameron Larson and Jose Prendes and directed by Patricia Harris Seeley, The Legend of La Llorona takes a well-known folk tale and brings it to its own flavor, mixing in a few other spooky tales and a family that needs some help. From early one, it’s easy to see where the story is going, what is going to happen, and what the most likely ending will be. The story is incredibly predictable even when it adds cartel members to the mix and a benevolent cab driver. The film wants to be a lot, but misses the mark of on most of it. It’s meant to be a scary story, but it’s not. The family angle somewhat works, but some of their issues are pushed so far that it leaves the viewer not caring about them. This all comes together in a film that just doesn’t hit any of its marks.
The cast here does what they can with the material at hand. Danny Trejo is always a joy to see, but his part here feels under-written and like they counted too much on how he can bring anything to life. There isn’t much for him to do and his time on screen comes off as an extended cameo. The leads here are not particularly memorable in any way, meaning that they are not great, they are not bad either. They just are, which in some films works, but here it comes off as something missing. The parts of course and how they are directed had a lot to do with this for sure as there is no way a whole cast can seem so ambivalent. There are a few nuggets of good here and there, but really nothing to write home about.
Thankfully, at least the film looks good with some genuinely well-designed sets here and there and some good images captured throughout, just nothing exactly stunning or original here. This leads to the whole film coming off as an afterthought for anyone who was involved in making it, leaving the viewer to just not care.
As a whole, The Legend of La Llorona comes off as entirely predictable and forgettable which is something that is too bad given the way the legend at the center of it all could have been used and can be truly spooky when developed the right way. The film ends up making a case for other takes on this subject to be done in the future as there has to be a better way to turns this story into something that is actually scary and makes good use of all the folklore behind the legend and the locations it can be set as. There is no need to bring other folk tales into it as it’s a rich enough story to make something truly great, which unfortunately is not what is on offer here. The Legend of La Llorona did the one thing that so many other have done with the same subject and is to bring too much into it and overthink the premise to try and connect with viewers in ways that are absolutely not needed. Here, simpler would have been so much better. Instead, we get a bit of a ghostly telenovela for American audiences.