Things go bump in the night in the horror-thriller The Curse of the Weeping Woman. It’s the first feature film from director Michael Chaves. James Wan – one of the producers – made an art form out of exploiting the horror genre; specifically the Annabelle franchise. The Curse of the Weeping Woman references the spooky doll at the centre of that, if only briefly.
The film starts off in Mexico in the 1500s, and shows us what happened to a woman who drowned her two children. Then we move to Los Angeles, 1973. A dedicated child services worker, Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) is juggling bringing up her two young children on her own with her work responsibilities. A case she has been working on for four years rears its head again, only now it’s different. The woman at the centre of that case appears to have padlocked her two children into a closet and burnt their arms. But appearances can be deceptive as Cardellini is about to find out.
Suddenly she and her two children are in a life-or-death struggle with a malevolent force. Traditional policing methods are of no value, so she turns to the church and from there to a mysterious faith healer. But things are about to get a whole lot worse.
I spent much of the film waiting for bad things to happen. A slow build up leads to a “bang” – a ghost appears complete with chilling sounds. Yes, it gets more preposterous, but I played along. Sudden darting movements with heightened sound effects are the order of the day … time and again.
It is chilling and tense; but the filmmakers manage to throw in a teeny bit of humour on a couple of occasions to break the ice. That actually works quite well.
Linda Cardellini does all she can to elevate the material written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (who wrote Five Feet Apart). She puts on a sincere motherly face. Her children are branded, thrown about and drowned … and yet bounce back. The question – as always in horror – is how to rid themselves of the thing preying on them once and for all.
Nothing new to see here, but The Curse of the Weeping Woman still elicits moments of fear.
Director: Michael Chaves
Cast: Linda Cardellini
Release Date: 18 April 2019
Rating: MA 15+
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.