Billed as Ed and Lorraine Warrens’ (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) darkest case yet, The Devil Made Me Do It is loosely based on the real-life events of Arne Johnson, a young man who brutally murdered his landlord while, the story goes, he was possessed by a demon. The third Conjuring film moves away from the days of haunted houses and moves directly into witchcraft, devil worship and Satanic musings.
While trailer for the film made it look like we were in for an arguably fascinating true crime/courtroom piece, we are instead given our lead characters are almost transformed into pseudo detectives as they try to piece together what really happened to Mr. Arne Johnson. But, perhaps shifting focus away from the true story into more of a supernatural epic is what the film needed.
Set in 1981, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It begins with Ed and Lorraine assisting with the exorcism of a young boy named David Glatzel. We are in full Conjuring mode here- plenty of jump scares, excellent cinematography/camera angles and lighting, sound effects, and gruesome images all playing out on screen within the first few moments. This is what you look for in a horror movie, hair sticking up on the back of your neck and everything. By the time the title card appears on screen, Arne Johnson has invited David’s demon into himself and Ed is hospitalized due to a heart attack.
It doesn’t take long before Arne is arrested for murder and the Warrens are volunteering their services to prove his actions were in fact due to demonic possession. This is where the fun of the film starts in my opinion. Director Michael Chaves (replacing James Wan) had to take a different approach for this film and I think it paid off. While the first two Conjuring films were more dreadful and filled with shadowy suspense, Chaves created a film that was much more action packed and character driven.
As we have seen countless times, movies that balance humor with their key focus, whether it be action, horror, or drama, make for a great viewing experience. Imagine watching Stephen King’s It Chapter One without the hilarious one-liners. It would have been an entirely different film. The Devil Made Me Do It makes you laugh one minutes before making you jump out of your seat the next. Chaves injected a much-welcomed dose of humor into Conjuring Universe and it made for a great time.
The Warrens are almost entirely reinvented as buddy cops- exchanging quips, solving crimes, hunting down extreme cultists, all while managing to stay true to their supernatural-esque backgrounds. While the renewed focus on their romance is less welcome, fans of the series will get to see the Warrens in an entirely different light.
Overall, I thought The Devil Made Me Do It was very well done. I enjoyed the storyline and the movement away from a typical demonic possession case. The criminal investigation piece of the plot and the focus on a real person was an interesting twist to these films. I thought the special effects, casual effects, CGI, etc. were all very well done and on par the other Conjuring Films. The jump scares were well done. There was definitely more violence and death in this film, but again, I thought it was all done well. And it goes to show that sometimes real people can be just as scary, if not scarier, than demons.
You can watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It in theaters or on HBOMax.
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