It is time to dive back into the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren and base a movie loosely on the cases within. Yes, it is the third movie of the Conjuring trilogy, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
This film is inspired by the true case in 1981 of Arne Johnson (played here by Ruairi O’Connor) where the defendant of a murder case claimed to be “not guilty by reason of demon possession.” This Conjuring film takes that trial case and weaves a background for it, involving everyone’s favorite demon fighting married couple.
I have not seen any trailers for this movie and it sounded as if the trailers made this film sound like they were going to be heavily involved in the court case, which sounds like a fascinating idea. However, the court parts are all of five minutes (maybe) of the film with the biggest part of the film dealing with the investigation of the Warrens searching for the witch that cursed Arne.
The film started off with Arne’s girlfriend’s little brother David (Julian Hilliard), who had been possessed and Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) were trying to help. However, during the ritual, the demon switched from David to Arne. When Arne eventually ends up killing someone, the Warrens are back on the case.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is most definitely the weakest of the three Conjuring core movies. While it is considerably better than most of the “spin-off” Conjuring films out there, this is a step back from the high quality of the first two installments. Still, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do was not a huge step back.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are clearly the heart and soul of these movies, and they are once again. Their love and their connection is what The Conjuring series is based upon and these films would not work at all without that connection. They are very smooth with these roles now and bring a confidence into their portrayals.
The unexpected heart issue that occurs early in the film was very effective and made me concerned for the victim the entire movie. At every moment, I was concerned that there would be a reoccurrence of the event to a more drastic result. That helped create a tension to these scenes.
There are some excellent scenes that are in the investigation that build a great deal of tension too. There is a very well done scene in a morgue that was anxiety creating. There is the scene of Vera Farmiga on the edge of the cliff that was frightening.
The story felt too disjointed at times and the investigation did not create an overall feeling of fear and concern. I was not connected to Arne or his girlfriend Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook) as I was for the Warrens and since we spent a good deal of time with them, these characters dragged the film down too much. I would have liked more of a reason to have cared for them besides they are the new victims the Warrens are helping.
In fact, I think I would have liked to have had more of the courtroom story. Had the story been tied to the court events, I think I would have cared more than I did for Arne.
The first two Conjuring films were directed by James Wan, but this time Wan is strictly in the producer (and writing) credit and the third film is directed by Michael Chaves, who directed The Curse of La Llorona in the Conjuring spin off series. Taking nothing away from Chaves, who does a fine job here, Wan is an exceptional director and brings a level of excellence to his projects that just might be missing here.
Overall, I think fans of the Conjuring series will not be disappointed with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. It does not feel as if it matches up with the first two core Conjuring films, but it certainly is stronger than The Nun, Annabelle, or The Curse of La Llorona.