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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – An Earnest Horror Film That Mixes Up The Conjuring Formula

June 7, 2021

Quick Thoughts – B – The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a breezy horror film that is worth watching for the excellent chemistry of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson

The third installment of The Conjuring franchise won’t achieve the critical and financial success of its two predecessors, but the new format (there’s a fun mystery) and likable characters make it a worthy addition to the franchise. Director Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) has made a visually interesting “whodunit” that is based on the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a murder trial that took place in 1981 Connecticut. Basically, a young man named Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) becomes possessed by a demon during an exorcism of a young child, and he goes on to stab his girlfriend’s boss 22 times while possessed. Instead of pleading guilty, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have him claim demonic possession as a plea.The demonic possession plea becomes worldwide news that isn’t taken too kindly by the presiding judge, which means Arne will be possibly be sentenced to death if he’s found guilty So, it’s up to Ed and Lorraine to figure out what/who is possessing him, and that leads them towards a wildly dangerous foe.

What follows is a fun murder mystery which refreshingly has much less weight to it than the Warren’s other two cases. A fun wrinkle in the story involves Ed suffering a heart attack after a demon child punches him in the chest (it’s wild). So, needing extra help, he and Lorraine employ the help of Arne’s girlfriend Debbie Glatzel (Sarah Catherine Hook), Father Gordon (Steve Coulter), and Drew Thomas (Shannon Kook), so can they dive into occult studies that lead them to Kastner (John Noble – I miss Fringe), a former priest who has knowledge of the Disciples of the Ram Cult (AKA bad business). Kastner informs them that they should probably run the other way as this particular brand of Satanist is super nasty, and any curse that they place has to be seen through, or their souls are taken to hell. Eventually, they learn that they have to destroy the altar of the occultist to stop the curse, which is easier said than done because they have no clue where to find it.

The rest of the film is a lot of fun, and it’s admirable how earnestly it’s played. The movie works because of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, who after several films have a lived-in chemistry that give it a lot of credibility. The two sell everything, and it doesn’t matter how silly it is, they make everything that much more believable. The cinematography by Michael Burgess (The Nun) is excellent, as he keeps finding ways to make big houses feel bigger, and waterbeds look devious. After working as a camera operator of movies like The Avengers, The Lincoln Lawyer, and The Conjuring, it’s neat to see him working as the DP on a major film. 

Final thoughtsThe Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a fun horror experience that won’t linger long in your memory.

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