“The Conjuring” is a series I hope studios keep re-visiting (with some caveats—ahem—“Annabelle”), since there’s so much they can do with the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. At this point the movie has taken many of their actual cases and expanded them in to wonderful horror films and “The Devil Made Me Do It” is no exception. True it’s not as good as the first two films, but the third part in the core movie series really does help to emphasize the heroism of Ed and Lorraine.
“The Devil Made Me Do It” is based on their 1981 case where, after a near fatal and unsuccessful exorcism, they’re forced to revisit the case once again. This time the possession has passed on to Arne Johnson, a young man who murders a friend in cold blood and is found by a police officer with no memory of what he’d done. Insisting possession compelled him to commit the heinous crime, Ed and Lorraine are called on to investigate a mystery that involves witchcraft, revenge, and a hideous curse.
The third part in the movie series really does up the ante, as not only is Lorraine pulled in to the mystery meeting her match, but Ed is forced to risk his life even more after a near fatal heart attack. The writers completely enhance the tension as Ed is weakened by his near death, making him a lot less of a powerful force in the investigation. This successfully injects a near hopelessness as the mystery unravels, putting the couple in to a circumstance that’s probably too extraordinary even for their skills. Even more it works as a considerably interesting callback to “The Conjuring 2” where Lorraine was plagued with the premonition of Ed dying. This allows us to feel even more inherent fear as Lorraine once again is a victim to her own powers.
While director Michael Chaves explores the case of Arne Johnson well, the film centers heavily on the bond and love between Ed and Lorraine Warren. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are as great as ever, offering a palpable chemistry that’s compelling and often gut wrenching. The two are brilliant actors, and they inject such clear cut nuance and desperation, especially as Ed is always on the verge of keeling over. The case itself is fascinating and the narrative leans strongly in to the idea of possession and potential haunting big time. Chaves films some truly spooky moments including a shower sequence and an extended confrontation in a morgue that definitely enhances the terror.
Chaves is not quite the director that James Wan is (even though I enjoyed “La Llorona“), but in holding the fort, he does a pretty good job keeping the series moving along. I, for one, love “The Conjuring” universe. While most it is broadly based on actual events, James Wan has helped cultivate a great supernatural series that’s about as close to an extended horror universe as we’ll get in the modern age. While “The Devil Made Me Do It” is the lesser of the trilogy, I look forward to seeing more from this franchise down the line.
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