The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was one of the most anticipated films that should have been released last year but due to the global pandemic has only been released this year. The third Conjuring film to be released and the eighth instalment of The Conjuring Universe, the film is set in 1981 and sees the Warrens take on the Arne Johnson case. Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) was the first man to plead not guilty to murder by reason of demonic possession. In order to prove that this truly was the case, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively) go cross country in a bid to prove Arne’s possession and the threat it still poses. Based on a script written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and directed by Michael Chaves, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a lot of fun to watch but is the weakest film in The Conjuring series.
Considering how successful The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 were critically and commercially, it was easy to assume that the third film in the series would follow suit. However, a change in writer and director sees this film take a very different approach that is entertaining at times but feels out of place from the other films. James Wan, director of the previous two films and creator of The Conjuring Universe allows The Curse of La Llorona director Michael Chaves to take the lead and this change in vision creates a film that feels inconsistent and oddly paced. The Arne Johnson case that it explores already is hugely different to the cases explored in previous films but what Chaves does is lean into the fantasy elements of the demon possession rather than looking at the victim more closely as Wan did in the other films.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are great as always as Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s hard to deny their chemistry as an onscreen pair and we really feel their trials and tribulations as the film’s events unfold. Despite the film’s flaws, Wilson and Farmiga make this instalment a lot of fun to watch and bring their A game to the performances. Farmiga in particular brings a stellar performance and the seen in which she is following another case involving two young girls is brilliantly executed and is among the best in the franchise. Her fear and lack of control in these situations bring a whole other level of scare to the film and although there are parts that venture on the silly side, the seriousness that Wilson and Farmiga bring makes it believable to a certain level.
Overall, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It may disappoint those who are expecting it to be at the same standard as the previous films. However, it is still a lot of fun to watch and hopefully this isn’t the last we see Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens. It was refreshing to see someone else bring a different point of view to the franchise but this is definitely Wan’s world and it would e fantastic if he directed the next instalment and brought the film back to its scarier roots.
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