From New Line Cinema and producer James Wan, The Curse of La Llorona brings the iconic Latin American legend to terrifying life in an original horror film, marking the feature directorial debut of Michael Chaves, the innovative filmmaker behind the award-winning short The Maiden.
In 1970s Los Angeles, La Llorona is stalking the night—and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.
We had the chance to sit down with the films Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velásquez & director Michael Chaves at SXSW to discuss the film. Check it out!
The Knockturnal: This movie scared the s**t out of me. What about this process scared you while filming this? I know a lot happened on set, but what about La Llorona’s story scared you guys?
Raymond Cruz: Well I think the thing is, we were making a film about a supernatural being and they make movies about these things because they are real. So now we’re going into the process of making a film about it, it’s very frightening and we had a couple of occurrences on the set that were scary. So yeah life and death stuff.
Patricia Velásquez: I felt like we were chosen and we had to do good by her and she was watching the whole time. She was there and if we didn’t do good by her, we were going to be punished. I felt that all along.
The Knockturnal: In the story, the reason why La Llorona gets so angry, she’s in revenge, she goes on a killing spree. Is there anything in life that’s made you so angry? Like what’s made you so mad that you had rage?
Michael Chavis: LA traffic. It’s so funny and I feel like I’m usually very good-natured and a gentle soul, but it is strange how when you’re in a car and people are cutting you off, there is this kind of primal survival instinct that is unleashed.
Linda Cardellini: Yeah, line cutting really gets really gets me. Because I am a rule abider and I will stand line and set my place and then somebody else comes along and just zooms right by me.
Patricia Velásquez: I’ve gotten really angry when I feel like my daughter has been mistreated. And I think for all of us, absolutely. And then you have to kind of control it because you don’t want to lose it in front of them because you have to kind of team them. If you think about when you were little, little layers of what lie your honor means or when you have children and how far you would go to save your children. But at the same time, if it’s about you are in a rage, the one thing we do in life is that we always destroy our little kids that are within us…a girl and a boy. Therefore, you can maybe spend the rest of your life trying to get that children back within you. I think Llorona is very relatable because of that.
The Knockturnal: Working with this wonderful man as a first time director, was there any nerves going into it or what kind of conversations did you guys have going into this film?
Linda Cardellini: We started off very collaborating. From the minute we met, we had a discussion about the script. We were working on things, we had a meeting and a reading and we will just, on the fly working together. Which to me was exciting because the best kinds of projects you can do is when you’re able to see somebody’s vision and also be part of that vision and collaborate with every piece of it. So to me that was really exciting and also sometimes very rare because I feel like sometimes people come in and they’re very insecure because it’s their first thing and they’re rigid and that’s the opposite of Michael. He’s so collaborative and really creative, and that to me gave me confidence that this was going to be a process that was going to be enjoyable.
Raymond Cruz: Michael is very enthusiastic about horror films. Very enthusiastic, which brought a great energy to the set and then we found a really great balance of humor in the film to help break up the tension which worked great.
Patricia Velásquez: He’s so enthusiastic. I remember the day I arrived to set, we were going to try makeup and he comes into the trailer and he says ‘are you ready? Okay let’s go…let’s run. Okay let’s run! There is no time!’ He was full of energy. It was wonderful.
Linda Cardellini: We shot relatively fast when we were doing it and Michael was always ready to try anything and do anything and Michael and our DP work together so well that you felt as though they were really taking care of the look of the film, the vibe of the film and there was a lot of room for us to do creatively what we felt. So it was nice.
Michael Chavis: Thank you guys! This is the first film, they hired me off of a short film I did. It’s a scary short film, called the Madon. Go see it online guys after you see La Llorona first, that’s the priority. But, I think I was just blessed with an incredible team. New lines supported me at every level with every person, especially with my cast and these guys have been the best collaborators. I think the movie is a really fun experience and I think you can see it because we had fun on set. There was that kind of great thrill ride energy while we were making it and I think it translates to the screen.
The Knockturnal: The 1970’s, one of my favorite eras obviously, but what about it and what would you take from that era into with you today?
Raymond Cruz: Fashion. Love the clothes from the 70’s and the music.
Linda Cardellini: I love the pre-technology that we know today. I love that idea of having to, even though my kids don’t want to talk to me and feel much…the idea of talking and sitting with each other, the idea that you can’t google something right away and figure out what’s going on and sort of what Los Angeles was in the 70’s, it’s fun too