The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Review

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: In the third installment of The Conjuring franchise, Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a murder, one that they believe may have been incited by demonic possession.

REVIEW: James Wan's 2013 feature The Conjuring was something special. The haunted house thriller inspired by the real-life investigation of Ed and Lorraine Warren struck a chord with modern audiences and critics alike. Instead of crafting a CGI-heavy shock fest, Wan gave the film humor, heart, genuine scares, and characters that felt real. The same can be said for the impressive follow-up which arrived in theatres in 2016. And now, after a year of dealing with rescheduling due to COVID-19, the third installment is finally here. While The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It finds the return of both Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed, it is the first time Wan has not been directing the fantastic duo – well, aside from their brief inclusion in the enjoyable Annabelle Comes Home. This time, The Curse of la Llorona's Michael Chaves is ready to bring a little bit of supernatural horror to a theatre, or a television, near you with its theatrical and HBO Max release on Friday.

It all begins with an exorcism gone wrong. We've seen Ed and Lorraine's success, but here we see what happens when the demonic entity isn't fully vanquished. When a young boy named David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) barely survives a horrific possession, things become momentarily quiet for the lad, as well as his sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook) and her boyfriend Arne Cheyanne Jackson (Ruairi O'Connor). Yet this family and the Warrens have something far more sinister waiting after a tragic event occurs. After Arne murders his landlord, he is discovered wandering the streets covered in blood. What happened and why did he do it? This crime led to the first U.S. court case where a defendant claimed he was the victim of demonic possession. Was Arne truly becoming host to something evil? Or are there more secrets to be discovered as they come closer to that very answer? I'll leave out the details as this case leads the Warrens on a slightly different type of investigation into the unknown.

As a fan of The Conjuring film series, I was concerned bringing in another director with a different vision may not be the best choice for the third film. Thankfully, Michael Chaves has not only continued in the tradition of the first two but he's also added a unique element into the mix, one that brings a bit of devilish fun to the proceedings. Chaves creates a moody and dread-filled horror show, one that works beautifully within the house the Wan built. Much like the previous films, Michael smartly navigates between the human drama and the more horrific images on display. And there are certainly a few spooks and scares to satisfy fans of the series – with the use of fantastic practical effects that will leave you in awe, especially thanks to the incredible contortion work by stunt double Emerald Gordon Wulf. The opening sequence alone is a gut punch and is easily one of the best moments in The Conjuring Universe. As well, the filmmaker manages to bring the same level of empathy to the people existing on-screen.

And then there are the franchise regulars. Not surprisingly, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson shine every moment they’re on-screen in this haunting sequel. The two actors continue to bring something truly refreshing to these big-screen versions of Ed and Lorraine. Certainly, there are some that question whether or not the real-life Warrens did more good than harm – and perhaps that's something that may curb the excitement for a few genre fans. Yet in this cinematic landscape, both actors continue to bring grace, humanity, and warmth to the characters they play. The care and love that they express for each other on-screen translate beautifully in this continuation. As the two grew in the second film, it's clear that both Ms. Farmiga and Mr. Wilson have a deep respect for each other, as well as the roles they've taken on. And yes, the third time is a charm.

The Conjuring, The Devil Made Me Do It, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, horror, sequel, Michael Chaves, 2021, Ed Warren, Lorraine Warren, paranormalThe film brings the Warrens into contact with the side story from the very beginning. And what a story it is. Sarah Catherine Hook and Ruairi O'Connor are terrific as a young couple facing off against this dark and powerful force. The two are very effective, and they play off the film's main protagonist especially well. Again, the focus on the characters makes it far easier to sympathize with the strange goings-on. In addition, young Julian Hilliard is excellent as a young boy battling for his very soul. It's also nice to see some of the regulars return including Shannon Kook as Drew who works with the Warrens, as well as Steve Coulter as Father Gordon. It's also nice to see the same actress take on the role of Judy Warren with Sterling Jerins' return – McKenna Grace took on the role in the Gary Dauberman directed spin-off Annebelle Comes Home.

Much like the previous films, this is a wickedly scary return, with excellent performances from both Farmiga and Wilson. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a smart and well-crafted horror sequel. While there may be a small handful of extra jump scares, many of them work rather well. Happily, the third feature still makes excellent use of practical effects and offers a villain that is likely to give you the creeps. Three films in and the original Conjuring franchise still works. This paranormal tale manages to bring something more to your basic big-screen horror show. Even if you might be one of the many ready to pounce and say that without Wan, this series won't work, those willing to resist that bias will surely be entertained as his influence is always clear. While the Satanic element may be a bit surprising – and perhaps there's a slight tongue-in-cheekiness on occasion – there is much to delight in with this frightfully fun sequel. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It continues to bring a fantastic blend of horror and heart to genre fans everywhere.


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