The Origin of La Llorona Myth

10 Apr 2019

The Curse of La Llorona, the upcoming horror movie produced by Conjuring’s creator James Wan, opens in cinemas on April 19. Find out about the terrifying myth that inspired it...

The History of La Llorona

Marisol Ramirez as La Llorona

La Llorna, also known as the Weeping Woman in English, is one of the most iconic and widely known figures of Latin America folklore, with her story being told from parents to children for centuries. The tale itself has many variations depending on the places and the people telling it, but the core stays the same – La Llorona is a woman dressed in white, who stalks the rivers and waterways crying over the death of her children, waiting in the dark to take away other children if they misbehave or stay out too late. Her haunting cry “¡Ay, mis hijos!”  – the last words that her victims will ever hear – is a reminder of her hunt for children’s souls in order to replace the ones of her own children.

A Terrifying Tale

What makes La Llorona such a compelling figure is the emotional fear that she can strike in everyone, either as a child afraid to misbehave or as parents scared to lose their loved ones. In the movie, the main character Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) starts by being highly sceptical of what she considers to only be superstitions. During one of her missions as a social worker she is sent to Patricia Alvarez’s house, a woman that has known and feared La Llorona her whole life. Anna discovers that the woman has locked her two young sons in a closet, in order to protect them as she believes they’ve been marked. Considering it an act of abuse, Anna puts the mother on psychiatric hold and take the kids into protective custody. The morning after, the body of the two sons are pulled out of the river, and Anna is warned by Patricia that La Llorona will now come for her own children.

The Curandero, a Spiritual Warrior

Raymond Cruz as Rafael Olivera and Linda Cardellini as Anna Garcia in The Curse of La Llorona
The movie also portrays another key figure of Latin American culture in the presence of Rafael Olvera, a former priest now curandero. Sometimes called shaman, curanderos are in charge of providing spiritual healing and protection to their communities. Rafael (Raymond Cruz) is Anna’s only ally in her attempt to keep her children safe. 

Respecting Tradition

Michael Chaves and Raymond Cruz on the set of La Llorona

To honour the beliefs and traditions that inspired the film – and in the spirit of not taking any chances – before cameras rolled, the filmmakers brought in a priest and a curandero to kick off production with some spiritual protection of their own. Following the priest’s blessing, the curandero performed a limpia cleansing ceremony, using the smoke from burning sage to remove negative energy from the set and everyone in it.  The filmmaking team also met with many curanderos and curendaras located in Los Angeles, who even revealed how they would face La Llorona themselves.

Will the efforts of Anna and Rafael Olvera be enough to prevent La Llorona from hurting the children? Find out the answer in cinemas April 19.

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