The Conjuring universe has proven to be a formidable force in the horror genre. I’ve liked most of the films in this franchise. I loved The Nun and the first Conjuring film, but really didn’t like the last film in this world which was Annabelle Comes Home. The one thing I could count on going into this The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was that there was no way this would be worse than that film. I’m happy to say that this most recent entry is far better than the last and is one I definitely recommend. What makes this a solid horror film is the cast, the intriguing plot details, the use of atmosphere, and the way it’s able to drum up suspense.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson once again knock it out of the park as our leads, Ed and Lorraine Warren. They’re professionals and they both fit into their respective characters shoes quite well. Farmiga is especially captivating in this role, she’s able to take control of scenes and convey the intensity she needs to. On top of being able to relay the proper intensity, she is also able to make you love her character. Both Ed and Lorraine are fleshed out lead characters that are humanized. We pull hard for them because this film and the whole series has made us love them as heroines. Having us as the viewers love these two makes a huge impact on our emotional investment.
In addition to Farmiga and Wilson, I also want to praise Ruairi O’Connor for his intense performance as the main victim here. He does a nice job with his part and I hope he gets more work off of this. The rest of the cast is good too, no one phones it in or gives a weak performance in this. The actual plot of this third Conjuring film is a departure from the previous two, this isn’t a haunted house horror film where all the events are centralized in one area. I really liked that they shook things up and got away from the singular haunted house experience.
We get witchcraft, totems, Satanists, curses, and more in this film. The past two focused on singular families dealing with demonic possession where as here we deal with a Satanist fulfilling a curse. I liked accompanying the Warrens on this mystery and unraveling the connections between things. The script keeps things moving pretty well and provides us with a decent amount of suspense and scares along the way. There were two instances in particular where I was very impressed by the way suspense was built up. Of course, I knew a scare was coming both times but it was the timing of it that got me. They make you wait longer than usual a couple times, which is the smart thing to do in a film like this.
I love atmospheric elements in horror films. The Nun handled atmosphere exceptionally well and that helped that film a lot when it came to the creep factor. While the use of atmosphere here isn’t as bold as it was in that film, it’s still strong. The look of the Satanist’s lair is very creepy and the details give off an old school type feel that really works. The alter and the pentagram and the black candles and all the other paraphernalia that’s shown helps to build up that feeling of dread and evil.
Atmosphere can do quite a bit for a horror film and it certainly lends a hand here. I also really liked plot details about the identity of the Satanic adversary the Warrens encounter. I of course can’t spoil the details about her character, but suffice to say they’re interesting. The way things end with that villainous character is pretty powerful too.
There is something that happens about halfway through this film that I got excited about only to see that they didn’t follow through on it like they could have. There’s a mild brief suggestion during one of Lorraine’s visions that a victim was a lesbian. This victim she’s seeing in her vision is with another girl and because of a couple lines and they way they act towards each other, it’s hinted that they’re in a relationship. Unfortunately, it’s a very brief hint and nothing is explored. I was hoping they would explore that young lesbian relationship just a bit, especially since this takes place in the 1970s when gay was a whole lot less accepted. I thought that would be a really interesting and unexpected thing for them to do and that might would have helped balance out the overall tone. The tone of these films is very religious and that has the potential to be polarizing since the Catholic Church and religious communities in general aren’t always the most inclusive.
I just think having something like that kind of relationship be included would even out the tone more. If you’re an atheist like myself then you do have to overlook some of the insisting that these films do when it comes to what’s real and what isn’t. I watch these films because I like horror stories and creepy thrills, not for preaching. This is my second complaint about this film. I do wish they had calmed down a bit on the preaching. But the positives do absolutely overtake the minor negatives here. I mean I didn’t enjoy this one as much as The Nun, but I did enjoy it. This is a well made horror film that sports a talented cast, an interesting storyline, and a decent amount of suspense.
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