From the producers of the Conjuring films comes The Curse of La Llorona Directed by Michael Chaves—set to open world wide in theaters April 19th. We recently caught up with cast members Raymond Cruz and Patricia Velasquez to talk about the making of the film and shattering cultural barriers.
About the film:
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. There 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.
Link2Us: What attracted you to the role?
Patricia Velasquez: When I read the script it was not even called La Llorona—it was called The Children. They had done it that way so that no one would know there was going to be a movie made about La Llorona. As I started reading it, I fell in love with the script and then realized ‘Hey! This is La Llorona!’ You have to understand, I grew up with La Llorona. I’m Venezuelan but grew up in Mexico, and I have been afraid of La Llorona ever since I can remember. I also fell in love with the role I would be playing—but most importantly I was taken by the respect that they had put into the script and everything surrounding the project.
L2Us: So, there was a lot of dignity in the way it was handled?
PV: Yes, there was.
PV: Even though La Llorona is a Hispanic entity, I just thought it was so great she would show up in 1973, in an American family—because her story has no borders. This was a great way to let the rest of the world know about a presence that has been so important to Latin culture.
How did you become involved with the project?
L2Us: Raymond Cruz: Well, I heard about the making of a horror film based on the Mexican legend La Llorona, and after reading the script, I wanted to be a part of telling the story. And so I took on the part of the “Curandero.” For those not familiar with the term, the ‘Curandero’ is a bit of a mystery character. A lot of people don’t know a lot about them or what they do, and so I really wanted to tackle that. And though it was a big challenge, I really enjoyed it.
L2Us: What did you feel like you personally brought to the character?
RC: I felt like I brought a great balance between his spirituality, his history with the Catholic Church and his practicing of white magic—him being a shaman/a mystic—and then combining those two to create a balance. There’s only one way to combat darkness or evil—and that is with light. And that’s basically what the character does throughout the film. He is an ex-priest who left the church, not because he had a problem with the church but because they didn’t do enough to help people who suffered from supernatural occurrences.
L2Us: The role really highlights the strength of mothers. And the unconditional love that they have for their kids and the lengths they will go through to protect them. Could you elaborate on what inspired you in your role as a mom in the film?
PV: Well, there are two things that really stand out. [In the film] There are four really strong and wonderful female characters. And that is so rare to find. It is such a great thing that the ‘Horror’ genre really allows for women to come and perform in complex roles. In my case, just like Linda, we are mothers in real life— and the idea of how far you would go to protect your children is real. [As an actor] I didn’t even have to dig too deep to access this emotion. The children [In the film], were such wonderful actors and so everything was there, right in front of us. Working with Linda who is such a wonderful actress, was powerful. You receive so much from her—which is really like not having to work that hard because it is all right there.
L2Us: In the making of the film did you learn anything new about La Llorona?
RC: No, (he laughs). You have to understand, [as Latinos] we learn about La Llorona as children and we hear about her our whole lives. Growing up, everyone one around you is Latin and the story is something that handed down from generation to generation. I was already frightened before I even did the movie(he laughs).
L2Us: Although it is a supernatural film, there are lessons to be learned in it. What would you hope audiences come away with?
RC: I hope that audiences come away with a greater awareness of Latin culture. This [La Llorona], is a gift from Latin culture to the rest of the world—and we see her as ours, she belongs to us. I hope that people walk away with a greater understanding of faith and humanity and the understanding that If you believe in the power of God you have to believe that there is darkness because you can’t have the light without the darkness.
PV: Well, obviously they will see a film with lots of scares and laughs— but really at its core, there are so many layers and values within the film. The first thing is you are going to see the film and you are going to be inspired. Also, there are so many things that happen between the female characters in the film that will really showcase the power and the strength of women. And If you are a non-Hispanic, you are going to walk away with the most important folktale presence in the Hispanic world
L2Us: What do you hope Latino audiences come away with in watching the film?
RC: I hope that Latino audiences going to see this film are excited by the fact that we have a movie of our own on the big screen! I hope that they enjoy the ride and are proud of the fact that we have representation in the cinema, finally! And I’m not talking about myself, or Patricia Velasquez, or Marisol Romares— but I am talking about Latin culture that is front and center and on the big screen.