The tale of La Llorona is one many of us kids from Latin American countries, particularly, Mexico, know well and once took extremely seriously on its face. The Mexican lore is pretty much a cultural treasure, one used by our moms and abuelas to scare the caca out of us in the years in which we wanted to wander out at night with our friends hours after the street lights had turned off or refused to get into bed when it was time to sleep. The story of a wife hell-bent on avenging herself of her cheating ex-husband and who drowned her children to do so haunted all of us. Not just because it told the story of an actual mother who murdered her own children, but because she was then cursed to wander the earth in search of them outside in our driveways, malls and even the hallways that led out from our bedrooms, for forever. La Llorona and her legendary anecdote have left serious mental scars on those of us who heard her stories but they have also become a keen part of our Latinx culture and heritage. It’s why, when news that Warner Bros. had greenlit a film about the scorned women and her curse, many of us were actually pretty excited.
That is until the trailer dropped.
On Thursday, Warner Bros. released the trailer for the upcoming film “The Curse of La Llorona” and you can color us unimpressed.
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At first sight, it’s easy to see that Warner Bros. did its due diligence in ensuring they wiped the film’s plot of any Latinx influence, let alone any indication that the original tale is Mexican. Yes, Venezuela Wayuu reina Patricia Velasquez gets a spot on the screen, but not in the way of a lead actress as we might have hoped. Instead, we get “Brokeback Mountain” star Linda Cardellini.
In a release of the movie’s synopsis we learn that the story follows Cardellini as a social worker named Anna Garcia who ignores “the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment” and is “drawn into a frightening supernatural realm [and finds that her] only hope in surviving 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.”
(Heads up: perhaps the most haunting aspect of the trailer comes at a moment in which Cardellini pronounces our weeping villain’s name as “Law Yer-Row-nuh.”)
Now, this isn’t the first time creatives have completely botched La Llorona’s classic story. Her popularity has piqued the minds of supernatural writers and creators before and as a result, many of us have endured whitewashed versions of her story wherein the Mexican elements of it are overlooked or ignored. It isn’t even the first time we’ve seen a Latinx story driven by a white actor. Still, La Llorona fans are taking the casting and premise of the film along with the painting of what the Latinx priest, played by Tony Amendola, does as “mysticism” as an extreme slap in the face to their culture and identities.
Critics online have pointed out that the creatives behind this show would have done well to explore this Mexican legend through Mexican characters.
Now again, the film’s synopsis describes Cardellini’s character as having the last name Garcia, which could mean one of three things. Either Cardellini’s character was adopted into a Latinx family, she took the name of her Latinx spouse, or the film is setting us up to witness some major Brownface. If the latter is true, we are super down for the moment Latinx Twitter gets ahold of this information and unleashes its incredulity. In a scenario where the second is true and Cardellini’s character has married into a Latinx family then: ?????????? I guess we’re still in an age where studios don’t understand that a large mass of their audience craves representation and are still afraid of wandering too far away from the days when Latinx characters played the sidekick. Clearly, the executives over at Warner Bros. did not get the memo that POC killed it this year in the box office. Remember that time “Coco,” “Black Panther,” and “Crazy Rich Asians” shut down the box office within just a few months of each other? Or the fact that there are so many Latinx actresses available for roles? Salma Hayek, Tessa Thompson, and Eva Longoria are just a few outstanding actresses of Mexican descent with top billing. But you just couldn’t go there Warner Bros.?
Ay yay yay.