Director: Michael Chaves
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard
I have to admit, within the opening 5 minutes of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, admittedly I was switched off by this release. And that is not a good thing.
As an avid fan of The Conjuring and its sequel, I had been looking forward to this for what felt like an age.
The Warrens (whether you believe them or feel they are fraudulent) have always had fascinating stories to share.
Indeed, the first film released in 2013 is widely considered a modern horror classic with audiences and critics alike. Grossing $320m worldwide from a $20 million budget, it was a huge success.
It was scary (the clap-clap lights scene was terrifically done), tense and whilst it dealt with the supernatural, it felt in many ways real. Different from other horror films we’ve seen churned out over the past decade.
This continued well for the second film in 2016, which captured a lot of the magic of the first whilst not being on the same level or able to top it, was still well-received.
Both films were helmed by director James Wan, who directed Insidious (again a modern classic) and the first Saw along with writing the movie.
The Conjuring franchise has A New Director
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It suffers almost instantly by not having Wan at the helm anymore.
In comes director Michael Chaves, who directed The Curse of La Llorona in 2019.
Which was one of the worst horror films of the past decade, set in The Conjuring universe, but captured absolutely none of what makes the franchise a success or renowned.
This alone should have warned me off the film, but being the main series in the franchise, and still staring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson who always delivers a fine performance, I was still expecting something good.
How wrong I was.
(Potential Spoilers Ahead…)
When the film opens up, we meet Farmiga and Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren in 1981 documenting the exorcism of David Glatzel. An 8-year-old boy.
Seeing the exorcism in all of its glory, with rapid directional cuts, an overload of CGI and the child breaking the laws of physics by rearranging his body (like Linda Blair in The Exorcist) really felt like we were almost seeing the peak of the film at the start.
And for me in the audience, sort of took me out of the film completely. It was a bit ridiculous, over the top and didn’t really at all look realistic.
People can argue it’s a horror, a movie and not supposed to be that way, but I feel at least with the original Conjuring there was a sense of realism that you could believe by the world it built. It didn’t seem so over the top.
Some state the sequence was the scariest part of the entire series…
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For The Wrap, reviewer Carlos Aguilar stated that the film “opens with a disturbing sequence, set in 1981, that stands as the scariest part of the supernatural saga to date”. I can’t say I’ve ever disagreed with something more.
The scene was more embarrassing than scary, and to say so is disingenuous to the previous two films that came before it.
The demon leaves the boy’s body and flies into Arne Johnson, his sister’s boyfriends’ body, and this character is really what the film is supposed to be about.
Arne Johnson is infamous for being the first known case in US legal history where the defense sought innocence by pleading ‘Not Guilty’ due to demonic possession.
But the film really falls flat with this story, and falls flat in building tension, fear or really giving the audience any real reason to care about the story.
Instead, what we get is a mess of a film, a directional style that leaves a lot to be desired and even Farmiga and Wilson can’t help overcome.
Their performances are great for the script they’ve been given, but there’s a real lack of character development in the third chapter to separate them from just playing a part.
The film really suffers from attempting to generate excitement and tension and I think this chapter really suffers from not being grounded in one location, as we saw with Conjuring and its sequel which centred around ‘haunted’ houses.
Instead of getting a fantastic three-piece to one of the most successful Horror franchises of recent times, we get a very tame, boring and poorly directed feature.
So, should you watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It?
If you are torn between catching this or A Quiet Place Part 2 (which I reviewed here) – I’d 100% recommended you choose the latter.
As I’ve stated above this was a film I really really wanted to love, and was excited to see, but it failed on so many accounts and felt just like a standard generic horror we see every year.
The Warrens had so many stories and this really wasn’t the right one for the studio select, or the right director.
If a 4th film (and most likely we probably will see) is made, then let us hope in the very least James Wan returns to lead it.
Have you seen The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It?
Did you like it? Did you hate it?
Let us know in the comments below.
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