The Curse Of The Weeping Woman (NC16)
Starring Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez
Directed by Michael Chaves
The Weeping Woman, due to her rage over her cheating husband, drowned her two kids in a Mexican river in murderous anger centuries ago. She then becomes a vicious demonic spirit who snatches and kills other people's children whenever there's a body, no pun intended, of water nearby.
Such as a big swimming pool in Los Angeles in 1973 here (which is huge even by conventional movie standards) or a bathtub borrowed from What Lies Beneath that absolutely screams “Don't put even one little toe into the water for goodness' sake!” Of course, someone does get in and WW (Weeping, not Wonder Woman) strikes in an unnerving and undressed scene.
Apparently, all the Latino people here, basically every Spanish speaker, in The Curse of the Weeping Woman, an enjoyable, even amenable horror chiller, have heard of this scary sobber before.
Particularly the unorthodox shaman, Rafael Olvera (Raymond Cruz from TV’s Major Crimes), a disillusioned former priest who is stoic yet teddy-bear likeable, especially to the children. “We are facing an evil that has no bounds,” he warns glumly as he chant spells which sound like Mexican food orders and spreads anti-demon tree seeds on the floor.
Shrouded in a veil and flowy bridal dress that camouflages her amongst the curtains until she suddenly reaches out and grabs somebody's arm, WW looks like a cross between a dishevelled bride and a very disgruntled mummy. That's mummy as in an Egyptian mummy, not a soccer-mum mommy.
Boy, what I would give to see the Weeping Woman, The Nun and the Woman In Black cosplayers together at the annual Horror Crossdressers Convention. Actually, WW exists in the same collective James Wan spook universe as haunted doll Annabelle who makes a cameo here. In fact, director Michael Chaves will be helming The Conjuring 3 next.
Now, basically, if you hear the Weeping Woman cry pitifully in the dark as a creepy lure off-camera, just drop everything and run for the hills preferably a month ago. Otherwise, even if you've locked yourself in a car, she can still attack in a tense holy-c**p-she's-just-outside scene by making car windows unwind by themselves.
The Latino folks truly fear her in a superstitious Hispanic-panic manner (sorry, couldn't resist this joke) as they put charms and candles and lock up their little ones in closets to protect them in a quaint extremely devout, possibly insane Catholic way.
But the whiter family of widowed mum, Anna Tate-Garcia (Green Book's Linda Cardellini), and her two young Anglo-Latino mixed children, Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), the prime targets here, have absolutely no idea who the hell she is and from what folklore version of hell she hails.
Anna and her family are marked literally by WW who leaves marks on their arms because Anna is the do-gooder social worker who innocently thought she'd rescued two doomed kids from their seemingly deranged closet-locking mother. Which kinda makes this Weeping Woman, Mexican snatcher of children, even more diabolical and unpredictable than Donald Trump's immigration policy.
By the way, the original title for this film was The Curse of La Llorona (“Weeping Woman” in Spanish). Could be they changed the title in case viewers think it's about a Mexican restaurant that makes lousy tacos.
What's clearly not lousy here in this fright flick, though, is its fine entertainment value. Not so much its fear factor because, frankly, ang moh horror doesn't really scare us mainly because it's ang moh and the folks in it don't do sensible super-kiasu Asian things. Like turning on the damn lights when they can't see a damn thing or not installing a bank-vault door or at least a Bagua mirror to fengshui the bad juju out of this showdown.
Because, man, the Weeping Woman really makes a big, happening deal out of crashing futilely through demon-proof doors in this pic like a dreaded loan shark despite her supernatural ability of showing up wherever she pleases.
I challenge you not to yell “Omigod, silly girl! Don't break the protection spell!” in the best scene here, an audience-participation shouting sequence where the little kid, Samantha, reaches out nail-bitingly for her ugly doll lying outside the line of protective seeds placed by the shaman.
Overall, then, The Curse of the Weeping Woman is pretty good fun because it scores on three points.
One: Its very likeable cast headed by wise-but-wisecracking Cruz and harried supermom Cardellini playing a terrified victim who fights back at least with a baseball bat although we would've preferred her calling either the US Marines or, ideally, the Pope. “Get out of my house!” she shouts at the intruder in the room as we cheer satisfyingly but alas, hopelessly, for her.
Two: While other horror movies usually rush through their evil-spirit-be-gone scenes, this film is actually one extended exorcism sequence with half of it being a great mano-a-mano face-off as the Weeping Woman comes at the family and demon-buster in their besieged house from all directions.
Up the creaky stairs, into the attic, from the ceiling, and down in the basement, swimming pool and all places good for a pop-up boo. I tell you, you haven't seen a woman in a bridal costume penetrating a domain with such fearsome purposefulness since Meghan Markle's wedding.
Three: And this is the best thing. Man, they really overwork the kids in major overtime here. Mainstream American horror flicks usually don't like to put juveniles in too many spooky scenes.
But the two spunky children, Christou and Kinchen, are so good at running and hiding from the Weeping Woman — at the pool, in the attic, under the table — they should be booked up for The Curse of the Weeping Woman Who Keeps Getting Stiffed By Fleeing Kids sequels.
“You don't have to be religious to have faith,” Rafael, the lapsed priest-faith healer, says here. I think he means faith in both Almighty God and all-flighty children. (***)
Photo: Warner Bros Pictures