Review: The Curse of the Weeping Woman
Drowns in its own tearsThe Geets (greats):
Given the profitable expansion of the Conjuring universe, I was interested in watching this movie, also due to a fresh take on the Mexican urban legend. This movie succeeded on some levels, such as creating an eerie presence and feeling of 'La Llorona' as a cursed spirit which latches onto children and keeps following them to their demise. You really get the sense of inevitability and hopelessness felt for the children who are sighted by this evil entity. This same dread drives the narrative in an impactful way that the audience member is fully invested in the storyline and the fates of the protagonists.
The narrative is, however, the most compelling aspect of this movie, with some genuine performances from protagonists as well as the morality implied within the complexities of certain characters. A Hispanic mother loses her children to this spirit, feeling guilt over the loss and losing her sanity in the process. She blames their death on the child protection worker, the main protagonist, for unlocking her children from a spiritually blessed cupboard, which enabled the evil entity to kill them. The narrative becomes one of morality acts on the superficial level undermined by the inherent religious beliefs of certain cultures which work outside these moral domain.
It is a comprehensive look into how societal and cultural worlds collide; how they misinterpret each other's domains, and how this can affect the final outcome. The protagonist's insensitivity to the Hispanic mother's supernatural beliefs led to inevitable death, leading the Hispanic woman on a revenge-driven attempt to cast the curse upon the protagonist and her family.
As the protagonist, and her children, become increasingly suspicious of the presence of this evil entity, she starts to believe the bereaved mother more. It was interesting to see this mother-to-mother dynamic play out more than the cliched scares and other horror elements. With progressing impending doom it is the bereaved mother's act of forgiveness that makes this a somewhat narrative a success, as she tries to help the family from this curse, showing her intrinsic nature for care and protection, which she once conceived when she raised her own children. Its shows the rewarding character development within her from the start of the movie till the end, ultimately making us appreciate the revitalisation of her humanity and the subsequent recovery from the very thoughts and feelings that made 'La Llorona' enact her cruel intentions.
Alternatively, another interesting relationship is between the protagonist and the Mexican priest, who seems to be dealing with a certain level of ambiguity and fear of the spirit. This adds another element of 'western vs traditional' concepts into practise, which is refreshing to see in some of these Horror movies, which would otherwise be riddled with homogenised clichés and tropes. Ultimately, the Mexican priests rituals and spiritual blessings are unsuccessful In keeping the spirit away, intellectually implying the strength of unity of different cultures in the fight against ancient spirits. It shows that humanity itself must come to terms with differences in religion and social norms when dealing with historical context (colonialism, spirituality etc).
However, some of the scares did deliver in terms of suspense build up and originality. It was more refreshing to see the spirit communicating in Spanish rather than becoming 'Americanised', something that I feared would undermine this movie overall.
The Phads (bads):
Despite the compelling storyline, character developments and overarching concepts of conflicting worlds, this movie fails to provide a structured complexion to the antagonist, the spirit herself. I found it more effectively scary by the physical absence of the spirit rather than its presence. Its physical form looked derivative of 'The Nun' or any other cursed entity, within the many overused ideas at the heart of mass-produced Horror movies. Her mannerisms and physical absence created a sense of terror that I couldn't ultimately feel after the final act.
This movie relied too much on the cheap scares to drive the narrative, making us feel the sense of a 'disease' taking over our lives, but ultimately, realising that the movie progressively got more ambiguous and derivative towards the end. The psychological fear of sinister forces trying to harm the human beings is undermined by the ultimately homogenised 'narrowly escaping death at the hands of the spirit' clichés. Perhaps the most cliched aspect is the ectoplasmic liquid coming out of the spirit's face, which is the most overused visual effect in most Horror movies.
I really wanted to appreciate the cultural complexities which were evident in this movie, but the movie took a more lacklustre final act composition which made it unceremoniously drown in its own tears.