‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is Messy and Uneven but Still a Well-Made Franchise Entry

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

Review: The Conjuring franchise is arguably one of the most successful horror series of the modern era. And while the numerous stories that make up this franchise have been a mixed bag in terms of quality The Conjuring series itself (or, more specifically, the films that are focused directly on The Warrens and their battle with evil) are the ones that most fans (including myself) will tell you are the best of the bunch. The Conjuring 2 is still my favourite, and no matter how many times I’ve seen it (I might have a problem) it still entertains me. So my excitement to once again battle evil with The Warrens in Part 3: The Devil Made Me Do It was all the way up to 11.

You okay, hon? Looking a little pale there

Now reviewing a movie you just saw isn’t always the smartest move, and I do plan on rewatching this one down the line to see if my initial thoughts will hold true. But of right this minute The Conjuring 3, while nowhere as frightening or expertly directed as Part 2 was, does deliver some decent chills and a story that feels both familiar and original. Let’s investigate.

So let us pretend for a minute everything The Warrens have said in their books and interviews were true. Ed and Lorraine Warren (once again charismatically portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga respectively) have battled evil over the decades and won. In the early 70s they faced Bathsheba, the evil spirit of a witch who terrorises a family that moved into her old home. At the latter end of the decade they took on a demonic entity brought about by (what else) a Ouija board. And Part 3 brings us into the early 80s, a time when satanic panic was at its highest and where people believed Satanists were everywhere and responsible for a lot of the macabre murders that took place. So it’s only fitting our story here focuses on a possessed young boy whose demonic entity passes on to another member of the family during an exorcism gone wrong.

On the bright side, no one will notice he peed the bed

After this new possession causes 19-year-old Arne Johnson to commit a brutal act, The Warrens do everything in their power to prove Arne was not in control when he did what he did. While I wish with all my horror-loving heart that James Wan had returned to direct the series he created, Michael Chaves does a decent job of keeping true to the atmosphere that made the first two films so memorable. Considering he directed another film in this universe that turned out to be mediocre as hell (The Curse of La Llorona) I called this a marked improvement. With some truly heart-stopping moments (I will never look at a water bed the same way again), even pacing, and some strong visuals (I hate CGI in horror but for the most part it worked) I do give them points for delivering a movie that felt much larger in scale than the ones that came before, even though it was ultimately just another story of one family going through a literal nightmare.

I honestly thought my issues with this film would’ve fallen squarely on Chaves’ shoulders (I really didn’t like La Llorona folks) but this time the flaws I found here tends to lie with the story. I did enjoy the misdirection of having the focus be less demonic and more…(don’t wanna give anything away)…grounded, and I didn’t expect it to go that way, but a lot of it does work for me. The main issue is this felt less like a movie and more like I was watching a mini-series. Chasing down leads, investigating other murders, tracking down an ex-priest played by John Noble (Noble starred in the television series Fringe and automatically gets a lifetime pass for being awesome in it) who causes more plot holes than anything else, all this took away from the intimacy that helped make the previous Conjuring films some of the best horror of all time.

Thirty years later Johnny would become Uzbekistan’s number one contortionist

Even if they wanted to go that way we don’t spend any time at all in the courtroom, and considering this is a story based around the real life case of a man using demonic possession as a defense for murder I was truly surprised by the unevenness of it all. Trying to tackle a murder case and the whodunit mystery behind curses, demons, and the devil all made things a bit too messy to call this a straight-up win. Still, the familiarity Wilson and Farmiga have managed to create with their depiction of The Warrens has created something you just don’t see in horror movies, and this relationship is what keeps you invested in the outcome of their stories.

Is The Devil Made Me Do It as good as the first two Conjuring films? No, not really. But as an addition to the franchise, it’s well-made, engaging, and does manage to deliver a couple of decent scares (and a bone-chilling villain played by Eugenie Bondurant). And for these things I set it squarely in the win column.

Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10

For more of my thoughts on Conjuring 3 you can check out my video review below:

So what did you think of The Conjuring 3? You can check out more Conjuring articles below:

Top 5 Movies of the Conjuring Universe

The World of ‘The Conjuring’ Remains Atmospheric and Immersive Seven Years Later (31 Days of Horror Part 20)

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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