‘THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT’ REVIEW
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Directed by Michael Chaves | Released 26 May 2021 | Runtime: 1h 52min
A solid entry into the Conjuring Universe
The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is the third entry into the Conjuring series, serving as a sequel to its 2013 and 2016 predecessors: The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case.
It’s the eighth movie so far in the Conjuring Universe (a horror fan’s version of MCU, some might say). Whilst James Wan directed the very first Conjuring films, this installment saw Director Michael Chaves take the reins. Sound familiar? Chaves directed one of the spin off films in the universe, The Curse of La Llorona.
Whilst The Curse of La Llorona is one of the less well-received entries into the horror-verse, Chaves has certainly delivered when it comes to the Conjuring 3.
The film welcomes back our favourite paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, as they delve into the depths of a murder case that may be linked to a demonic possession. The story is based on the 1981 trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in Connecticut, where according to testimony, a demon fled 11-year-old David Glatzel’s body and took up residence within Arne, possessing him and causing him to commit a heinous crime.
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious) reprise their roles as the Warren’s, and as always, their performances are one of the best offerings in the franchise. Whether you believe in this kind of stuff or not, their presence consistently adds to the level of enjoyment felt throughout the films, and it’s easy to miss them in some of the spin off movies. The duo represent the demonologists with such sensitivity, vulnerability and believability, that you can’t help but get sucked into their world, joining them as they open up the doors to the supernatural.
The casting of the couple is one of the best decisions to come out of these films; Farmiga’s character is repeatedly put in dangerous situations but she portrays Lorraine with dignity, and as a fearless lead set on salvation. Wilson bounces off his co-star too, ensuring Ed oozes with selflessness and genuineness. The duo’s on-screen chemistry is also the key to keeping the films alive; viewers invest in their stories and their love, and can’t wait to see what other horrors they have allegedly encountered.
Ruairi O’Connor (Teen Spirit) approaches his role of the possessed accused with such softness that, in the moment, you can’t doubt his version of events. O’Connor encourages you to emphasise and believe his character, ensuring not to over-do those unnerving moments, and instead master the art of subtlety, as if you are slowly watching something sinister imprint itself onto a vulnerable Arne. His younger co-star, Julian Hilliard (WandaVision), plays David Gatzel, and is equally brilliant as he navigates through his own horror story. At just 9 years old, he owns some of the more frightening and disturbing scenes.
With The Conjuring 3 having a different director, it’s easy to be skeptical and worry that the film would lose what it’s known for. Wan delivers when it comes to curating the perfect atmosphere, known for establishing camera shots, his attention to detail, and filling viewers with the fear of the unknown. He’s also the modern master of serving up the right amount of genuinely heart-racing jump scares. Chaves had a lot to live up to taking on the third instalment, but he surprisingly didn’t disappoint. The Conjuring 3 still delivers and keeps in line with audience’s expectations, with Chaves going further to put an even darker and much more violent stamp on his storytelling. From literal blood baths to invasive and very personal scares (ahem, the waterbed scene), this film is just as well put together, with enough unsettling moments that are perfectly executed alongside the nail-biting score.
Of course, no horror film is perfect. There are a few weaknesses in the story; the Occultist, whilst central to the film, could have had a more developed backstory, and Kastner feels underutilised as a character and an actor. Visually, there’s one unimaginative evil spirit that comes across as more laughable than scary; appearing twice, it was a risky move as it did spoil the overall scary and atmospheric nature of the film.
The Conjuring 3 is a welcome addition to the franchise, and one we think existing fans will enjoy. Whilst not as showstopping as its prequels, the installment further proves that this series is one of the better modern horror’s out there. Prepare to lose yourself in the story and leave a bag of nerves after the frights. Oh, and the stylistic nods to the horror treasures of The Shining, The Exorcist, and A Nightmare on Elm Street really do help make this a horror fan’s dream.
The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is available to watch in cinemas now
A special thanks to Warner Bros. UK for providing a preview of the film ahead of its UK release.