THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT Review; "An Atmospheric, Thrilling New Chapter In THE CONJURING Mythos"

THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT Review; "An Atmospheric, Thrilling New Chapter In THE CONJURING Mythos"

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It arrives in UK cinemas tomorrow, and hits HBO Max early next month. How does this third instalment stack up to those memorable first two efforts? Here's our verdict...

The Conjuring franchise has proven to be more successful than anyone could have imagined, and between the original two movies and the long list of spinoffs that have followed, the series has now grossed $1.9 billion against a combined budget of $139.5 million. It’s an incredible, unbelievable feat, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opens the door to even more exciting possibilities moving forward, all while trying something new with the story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Shifting gears from the spooky goings-on in James Wan’s movies, this third chapter tackles Satanism, and the results are truly terrifying. Once again based on true events, the story follows Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the subject of the first court case in American history where the defence was that he killed someone while under demonic possession. With the clock ticking and his life on the line, Ed and Lorraine have to find the source of the demon, all while fending off some formidable supernatural entities. 

If you plan to watch this movie at home (it opens in UK cinemas tomorrow, but will receive a simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max release in the U.S. next month), then you’re going to want to keep the lights on. Director Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) has mastered the art of jump scares and building tension to the point you can’t take it anymore, and combined those two elements to make a movie that will scare the living daylights out of you. There’s a fairly compelling mystery at the heart of the movie, but The Devil Made Me Do It doesn’t take too many risks when it comes to portraying possessions and exploring the concept of Satanism. In that respect, this movie tends to feel a little too familiar, and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s screenplay lacks the smarts of the previous two instalments. The chance to really explore some fresh mythology is there but glossed over, and the demonic presence isn’t well explored or fleshed out enough to leave a lasting impression.
 


The story is by no means bad, though, and it is admittedly refreshing to see the love story of the Warrens put front and centre. The supporting characters don’t bring a whole lot to proceedings, but Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson remain as superb as ever, with tonnes of chemistry and bring a level of believability to their on-screen relationship that helps get you effortlessly invested in both their story and the world this franchise inhabits. Ruairi O'Connor delivers a solid performance as Arne, and it’s fun to see more of the talented Julian Hilliard here after his memorable turn in WandaVision as Billy Maximoff. 

It’s to the movie’s credit that it at least attempts to toy with some new ideas, even when those don’t quite stick the landing. The haunted house formula is missed, but a non-demonic antagonist and some neat twists ensure you’ll be hooked the entire time. The Conjuring 2 arguably remains the best of what is now a trilogy, but with such intense scares and a constant increase in tension that culminates with an edge of your seat finale, it’s impossible not to recommend this effort to horror fans. 

It certainly has some issues (as great as it is for Farmiga to take on a more active role in proceedings, it’s a shame to see Wilson mostly have to hobble around with a walking stick), and could have done a better job making Satanism something that left us scared to sleep with the lights off. By leaving the “comfort” of your typical haunted house, the movie occasionally strains credibility, especially with some of the sequences set behind bars. It’s in those moments that it’s easy to get frustrated with The Devil Made Me Do It, because if you’re going to have a guy fighting off demons in prison, why not go the whole hog and really play around with that setting in some crazy ways? Regardless, you’ll still find yourself suitably rattled by this latest case, and it’s left us anxious to see this franchise return with a part four. 

Despite hitting a few familiar beats along the way, The Devil Made Me Do It is an atmospheric, thrilling new chapter in The Conjuring mythos that will leave you utterly terrified and on the edge of your seat after delivering scare after horrifying scare. 

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