The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the third Conjuring movie and the seventh installment in the universe, offers a different spin on a long-adored series. It’s frightening, fresh and offers smart scares.
The movie opens with Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) as they attempt to perform an exorcism on 8-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). We witness a spine-chilling scene as the demon takes over the little boy and causes him to twist his body. Present in the room are his sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook) and her boyfriend Arne Jackson (Ruairi O'Connor). In that moment, Arne pleads for the life of the boy and offers himself up instead.
Soon after, Arne is found wandering on the streets covered in blood. He murdered his landlord and says “I think I hurt someone.” The Warrens take up the case, becoming the first American murder trial to claim demonic possession as a defense, while trying to figure out what or who possessed Arne.
As a fan of The Conjuring films, I was worried about this one being helmed by a new director. While the previous two were directed by James Wan, this time Michael Chaves takes over the reins. But Chaves stays true to the spirit of the franchise and offers up more thrills and scares in this entry that’s a well-crafted horror.
While the film doesn’t fare better than the first two movies, which had haunted houses and malevolent spirits as the main attraction, this one goes in a new direction. What I particularly liked were the camera tricks and smart scares that offered a new way to frighten the audience – tricks that haven’t been deployed before. Those moments are some of my favorites in the film. Chaves has an eye for creating solid visuals that make the experience of watching this horror a fun ride – even at home.
As for the plot and storyline, I found it a bit weak. There were many things happening at once – from Arne's possession, which isn't given much attention, to the Warrens' mission to find the demonic cause of the problem. Pieces of the puzzling possession are fed to us without completely connecting the dots and thereby leaving a few plot holes. The film drifts between an investigative thriller and a horror -- which might be to the liking of many.
But aren't we really here for the screams and scares? And the film very much gives us those, complete with the classic horror tropes, dark visuals and eerie silences. You'll find yourself looking twice at ordinary things in a dark room. The cinematography is, like its predecessors, a sweet treat for fans.
Another reason why fans come back to every film is due to Ed and Lorraine Warren. This film pivots around our favorite couple as Vera and Patrick bring warmth and grace to their characters. We’ve come to root for them time and again, and this one invests in their character arcs as much as the horror plot.
Overall, this was a pretty neat entry considering the filmmakers wanted to take the franchise in a new direction but still giving us horror fans the Conjuring experience, and new audiences a chance to enjoy an entertaining summer flick. Just don't go in expecting a haunted house story as with the previous entries and you'll be quite satisfied with this. It’s different, original and far better than some of the disappointing horror spin-offs we’ve seen (eg. The Nun).
The Conjuring: the Devil Made Me Do It is now playing in theaters, on HBO Max in the United States and on VOD in Canada. ~Marriska Fernandes