The third installment intents to convince the public that demonic possession does exist.
When the “based off a true story” line pops up in the Conjuring Universe films you can’t help but have some sort of skepticism for where the story is going to lead. However, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people with many questioning the validity of their recorded incidents. Now when it comes to the films themselves some of the recorded incidents have been used in the various films we’ve seen since 2013.
“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” is the third film of the main Conjuring series, as well as the eighth overall film in the cinematic universe. The film was directed by Michael Chaves, who previously directed “The Curse of La Llorona” and written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (The Conjuring 2). Unfortunately, this is the first main entry of “The Conjuring” films that didn’t have James Wan at the helm which you can sort of feel as you watch it. Wan’s direction and special touch he brought to the first two films helped shape the way this cinematic universe is made.
In this film, we follow the real-life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a notorious nationally publicized murder case in which Johnson claimed “The devil made me do it” as his defense. It was the first time demonic possession was used as a legal defense. Based on the Warrens’ stories, like the other Conjuring films they presume Johnson’s possession was real at the time of the murder. This is used to build a story around the presumption. Throughout the film as they help the possessed person in court, they discover a wider connection between his and others in the area. The Warrens hope is to solve it and put an end to them once and for all.
Throughout, the latest entry is a pretty solid film as it continues to stay true to form while trying to change the formula with disconnecting from the franchise. The element of possession is there but it’s not heavily rely on to tell the story. You get a sense of solving a creepy mystery, like a detective story with the hauntings still playing a major role. It’s definitely a change of pace for the series as focusing too much on the possession and having shaky cabinets or a jump scare at every turn can get old very fast and there’s no fun these sort of films.
One aspect of the film the truly enjoyed is the cinematography. It creates the atmosphere of the film with the deliberate came movements and focus on deep shadows. Although there were poor choices in the lighting usage where it was didn’t serve too well for some scene. You get a disorienting feeling by the editing as well, when there’s instances where it cuts too many times between scenes. I had to take a moment to focus back on the story again at times.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga continue to deliver great performances as Ed and Lorraine Warren as they’ve been able to delve further into their characters with each film. Especially during “The Conjuring 2” when Lorraine was confronted by the Nun throughout the film. This time it’s Patrick Wilson’s character that experiences his own trial when the demon intended to kill him via a mild-yet serious stroke. The other performances are good especially that of John Noble as retired Father Kastner, who helps the Warrens in their investigation, but has a deep secret of his own.
Pretty solid in trying to change the pace of the way it’s told, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” is balanced. It definitely stands on its own as an entertaining and creepy horror movie. It delivers good horror sequences using great performances and doesn’t rely the jump-scare trope that can make or break it. Any horror fanatic will love this film but many who want a good horror film will enjoy this one as “The Conjuring” universe continues to grow through the main series and its spinoffs.