Published on June 4th, 2021 | by Dan Nicholls


The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring-verse chugs along, sometimes huffing and puffing, sometimes more effective. The Devil Made Me Do It is on the better end of the scale.

The box office’s favorite supernatural investigator couple are back five years after The Conjuring 2 (but only after a short two-year gap from their extended cameos in Annabella Comes Home) in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. It’s such a warm feeling watching Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga slip so comfortably into the roles that gave them mega horror clout. Director James Wan is gone and subbing in is Michael Chaves, the director of The Curse of La Llorona. Some unease about whether or not this Conjuring-verse is wearing out its welcome isn’t necessarily unwarranted. But if what we see here is any indication of the creative steam left in these filmmakers, it wouldn’t be such an awful thing to stick around for a while longer yet. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It may not be as slick as its predecessors but it’s still a largely satisfying scary movie ride.

We reunite with Ed and Lorraine Warren doing what they do best: expunging demons from someone’s soul. It’s a scary sequence that would’ve played like gangbusters with a full audience, but even at home it’s an electrifying hook. After this successful exorcism the haunting moves on to another guy named Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor). Arne kills someone while in a possessed state and goes to trial for murder. With the Warrens’ help Arne explores the option of “not guilty by demonic possession” as a genuine defense strategy while the dynamic duo themselves try to find a way to break this particular curse and save Arne’s life – and maybe even their own – in the process.

Easily the most winning element of these movies to date has been the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. They take these two unconventional people and somehow get us to invest as heavily into their love story as we do into the scary parts. Indeed the ending message about the power of love might make you want to vomit if it weren’t for the powerful bond these actors have created with these characters. They are the beating heart and the hopeful souls of this Conjuring-verse and another spooky investigation with them would still be most welcome after 3.5 mostly successful outings to date.

Even if this third Conjuring flick has all the heart in the world it doesn’t really matter if the scares aren’t there. Simply put, there’s some scary shit up in here. The opening scene in particular is rather nightmarish, and there are enough frights regularly paced throughout that the ‘joy ride’ aspect of this particular horror movie felt suitably satisfying. When the little kid has his body all contorted it’s the stuff that makes up bad dreams and good horror movies.  Though the director maybe doesn’t have a smooth commanding of his staging and camera movements the way James Wan did there isn’t anything particularly ‘off’ about his style. It fits into the franchise mold and keeps you hooked throughout more than The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona did.

Although Internet Film People might lament the lack of original series director James Wan, newcomer Michael Chaves proves to have enough tricks up his sleeve to make the inevitable decline in quality nowhere near as steep as it could’ve been. Pulling out some fun supporting performances from the likes of John Noble and Keith Arthur Bolden is another testament that perhaps Chaves’s next feature might be one to keep an open mind about.

Being that the majority of Canadian movie theaters are closed, Warner Bros. has made The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It available for premium rental on all your favorite VOD services. This one might justify the cost as it still would’ve been considered a sure sell for a pricier night out during normal circumstances. However you get to see the film, it’s still a worthy follow-up to the previous entries even if it doesn’t quite capture their magic. 

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is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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