MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘Hellboy’ Stay on target “La Llorona” or “The Weeping Woman” is a popular Mexican folk legend about the ghost of a beautiful woman who drowned her children in a fit of jealous rage against and now haunts the earth seeking disobedient living children to take their place. Obviously, she’s an innately cinematic-sounding ghoul and a sensible addition to the vaguely-defined “Conjuring Cinematic Universe” of (sort-of) interrelated supernatural spin-off features; particularly as Hollywood horror producers are ever keen to find a through-line to tap more directly into the growing Latino-American audience that represents an exceedingly large share of theatrical ticket sales for the genre according to box office data.So while it’s not surprising that The Curse of La Llorona sucks (because, apart from the main series and the second Annabelle movie all of these Conjuring “Universe” things have sucked for the most part); it is surprising that most of the reason it sucks is because the filmmakers, by some unknown logic, have seemingly attempted to – for lack of a better word — “De-Mexicanize” the entire concept as much as possible, stripping La Llorona of all but the most incidental trappings of her specific cultural origins and actively avoiding letting Mexican or Latin-American presence color the rest of the otherwise bland and lifeless proceedings in any way until the point where they can provide an unnecessarily villainous intrusion that feels preposterously hostile in context.Set in mid-1970s San Francisco (for no reason other than to pointlessly align things with Conjuring and Annabelle continuity) the film stars Linda Cardellini as a police widow and child services agent who removes two seemingly-abused young boys from the home of their panicked Mexican-American mom despite her protestations that the kids are actually endangered by the malevolent ghost of the title. When the boys wind up dead anyway, a chance encounter leads to Cardellini’s own young children becoming La Llorona’s next targets, frustrating their own already difficult home situation, and forcing her to seek help from the Church and ultimately and independent Mexican spiritualist who battles evil with unorthodox old-world methods.Incidentally, Cardellini’s late cop husband was also Latino and her two children are mixed-race, and if you think the film is going to miss the obvious opportunity to explore the interesting cultural intersection of her living as a single white mother to Latino children in a mixed neighborhood being menaced by a literal specter of Old Mexico… you’d be absolutely right, actually — they don’t even touch that. It’s sitting right there, but they don’t use it. And it’s not like it’s because they’re busy using other stuff — there’s nothing going on in this movie other than marking time between “Well, they left the kids alone again, time for the ghost to jump out and scare em a little until a grownup shows up.”Instead, I wound up wishing they had kept the involvement of the still thoroughly minor Latino supporting characters out absent; since when one of them does suddenly become semi-prominent again in Act 3 it’s for an entirely unnecessary extra “Here’s why this is all happening in the first place” plot-twist that succeeds in turning what was already bordering on bad-taste subtext of a white suburbanite being assailed by an invading Mexican phantom just becomes… TEXT, in a way that I want to assume wasn’t so much deliberately malicious as it was a thoughtless stab at extra drama. In general, you get the sense that the overriding goal was to make La Llorona “universal” — perhaps in fear of inadvertently creating a “Mexican caricature” villain… but at least a caricature would have been a character. As it stands, La Llorona is easily the most boring of the Conjuring monsters, a generic jump-scare ghost whose ill-defined powers and motifs are sometimes about water, sometimes about mirrors or vision-filters, sometimes corporeal, sometimes spectral. She can teleport around but also has a problem with doors except when she doesn’t and then it turns out she’s got about five or six different kryptonites plus allergies to all the usual exorcism stuff right at the end, but they don’t really use most of it.All in all, a major disappointment even amid the low expectations one owes this bizarre franchise: boring monster, disrespectful of the stuff it’s cribbing from bordering on mildly racist, not scary, not interesting, no reason to watch this.