The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the third film in the Conjuring series and the eighth installment in the franchise. It follows a real-life case, as Ed and Lorraine Warren oversee the exorcism of an eight-year-old boy, David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). Things go horribly wrong when his sister’s boyfriend, Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) summons the dark entity to “take him” instead and the demon agrees.
Taking a sinister turn, Arne starts exhibiting abnormal behaviors as he becomes entrapped by a dangerous presence and ultimately turning violent as he murders his landlord. His lawyer and the Warrens team up to prove he was under the influence of demonic possession during the murder.
Setting up the film with a court proceeding, at a glance, feels comparable to the bone-chilling film, The Exorcism of Emily Rose but soon intertwines with elements of The Exorcist. Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) arrives at David’s house to help with the exorcism as David is believed to be under demonic influence and displays erratic behavior. It’s always creepy when children are involved and could possibly draw a line for anyone who’s sensitive to young people being involved in horrific and Satanic violence.
Director Michael Chaves, who helmed The Curse of la Llorona, peppers in the same horror tropes from past films with jump scares, a predictable villain accompanied with Satanic-like alters, and extreme contortions in exorcisms. If it weren’t for straying away from the typical haunted house storyline, the tropes might have felt even more repetitive.
Lorraine Warren’s (Vera Farmiga) character is definitely the driving force that gives the film the edge it needs. Her character shines as we see more of her intuitive second sight, her relationship with Ed, and her strong-willed personality. The downside to the focus on Lorraine is that the audience is left with questions about other characters whose stories never have the chance to go anywhere.
Watching this film in the theater definitely played a part in fully experiencing some of the chilling moments but they were very short-lived. As with most horror movies, there are much needed moments of relief but The Conjuring 3 went too far. An over-the-top entity brought everyone int he cinema to laughter instead of panic and moments that should have been shocking fell flat. The outlandish entity, drew parallels to the entities portrayed in IT and even adding influence from the franchises past scares, including Annabelle.
What pulls the movie together are the seasoned investigators and their drive to help Arne as well as other victims of possession. While the film is definitely more about a curse and less about proper possession, the title is somewhat confusing as the investigators themselves point out this is anything but a run-of-the-mill possession.
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There are some effective moments of buildup and I caught myself holding my breath for a split second. It definitely was not another haunted house storyline and did actually feel like a new film to the franchise. However, it could have offered a lot more if given a more intimate look into the characters as the true story here is about ordinary people doing unimaginable things.