“Sometimes it’s better to keep the genie in the bottle.”
It might have come from a trailer of the next installment (demonic doll-sequel Annabelle Comes Home) in this burgeoning horror series. But it’s the quote that stayed with me after enduring 90 minutes of tepid thrills and second-rate scares. It derived with some sadness that I have to report that the sixth time is not the charm. “The Curse of the Weeping Woman” proof that The Conjuring Universe has lost its magic.
Set in the year of both mine and The Exorcist’s birth, debutant director Michael Chaves’ tale focused on Los Angeles’s widow social worker Anna. Tate-Garcia’s battle against a more than 300-year-old scorned Mexican bride.
At first, she thinks it’s simply a case of child neglect at a home that’s regularly appeared on her case file. However, when the Alvarez boys turn up dead and her own children start being spooked by something that does more than just go bump in the night. Anna seeks the help of her friendly neighbourhood “Latino priest”. Somewhat shaken by a previous encounter with a possessed piece of porcelain. He fobs her off onto an unorthodox ex-priest (“operating on the fringes of religion and science”) Armed with a series of the household. It seems Rafael Olvera (Major Crimes) is the only man who stops this “evil that has no boundary”.
Unfortunately, despite some clever visuals tricks and tracking shots, it’s also evil with virtually no originality. Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis (who also collaborated together on last month’s teen drama Five Feet Apart). Script stumbles along, seemingly constantly changing its rules, shifting its goalposts and dredging up old horror tropes.
What goes wrong…
What’s worse, is that after a promising mood-setting opening the visuals quickly default to gloomy, the soundtrack settles on the permanent screechy pitch. The film-makers decide to prioritise endless jump scares over anything resembling a compelling plot.
A movie to make you yearn for the scary movies where a boogeyman had the decency to explain their motives. Weeping Woman’s only real curse is making you waste time, watching its by-the-numbers horror play out.