The unfortunate truth of Hollywood filmmaking is the central importance on profit than creativity. The more that Disney continues to dominate the box office, the safer that Hollywood producers will be with their money. This trend may be most obvious with the numerous Marvel adaptations and sequels, but the more devastating effect of this cautious attitude toward creativity in Hollywood is the horror genre.
Since James Wan directed “The Conjuring” six years ago and mastered the ability to turn a, by comparison, low budget horror film into a pop culture and box office success, Hollywood filmmakers have copied the lazy horror techniques on display in “The Conjuring” and turned Hollywood’s back on creativity within the genre.
“The Curse of La Llorona” is yet another bastard child of Hollywood and its lack of creativity that shames the genre of horror and continues to isolate those who love the genre. The director, Michael Chaves, is clearly a dedicated “student” of James Wan, and the film is certainly an imitation of Wan’s work, and in no way engages its audience in a creative way.
The film follows the Mexican folklore of La Llorona within the 1970s backdrop of the “Conjuring” universe. While the original folklore could have made for an interesting story within itself, the irritating truth is that this film is the sixth entry in the “Conjuring” franchise, and continues Hollywood's notion that audiences will not show up to see a new film unless it is connected into a universe with multiple different films. This attitude will continue to choke Hollywood until the smallest bit of creativity it has left is crushed under the weight of high budget Disney films.
It is difficult to assess the film from an objective standpoint without taking into account the other films in the franchise into account because Chaves’ film is full of recycled material from the other five films. The jump-scares are predictable to the point of irritation, and the plot, which follows the overused, yet wholly, classical Hollywood, storytelling mode, is equally as frustrating. Even for those unfamiliar with the source material, the film is easily predictable.
Issues with the lack of creative directorial insight aside, the film provides another odd creative choice. The Mexican characters and Spanish dialogue are used at multiple points throughout the film to create terror of the unknown in the main characters. This decision is odd, yet unfortunately not surprising in a Hollywood film. For a film that adapts a popular Mexican lore, it is borderline insulting that the film depicts the culture in this way. While the Spanish dialogue might be considered a nice treat to those who speak the language, the lack of subtitles adds to the rampant American mindset of us vs. them.
While it is not surprising that the sixth film in a franchise is lacking in creativity, it is frustrating that these films continue to perform at the box office. This is in no way suggesting that films should not be supported in the theatre, rather it is a simple observation that the more money these films make, the more of these films will fill the theatre each year. The only way that Hollywood will stop churning out the lazy, lifeless sequels is if they stop making money. As seen in nearly Hollywood release in recent years, this lack of creativity is here to stay.