The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It – Review

The Conjuring 3 Vera Farmiga Patrick WilsonThe Conjuring universe has become one of the most engaging – and profitable – modern horror franchises. Drawing on the antics of real life “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren, it now boasts a total of eight movies (and no doubt many more spin-offs in the works). The latest outing, subtitled The Devil Made Me Do It, picks up in 1981 – four years after the second installment of the trilogy.

The film – of course – centres around the real case of a young man who claimed to have committed a brutal murder owing to demonic possession. The question is, can the Warrens successfully help to prove this in a court of law and just who – or what – is behind this latest curse?

Opening with the exorcism of a young child, who promptly contorts and growls until his little demon pal is passed onto his brother-in-law, the film sets its marker from the outset. This isn’t going to be psychological or chilling. This is going to be all about the jump scare.

From there, there are weird demon faces, a sloppy wet corpse, sudden spikes in the score and … not much else, it has to be said. This film is easily the weakest of the trilogy – which is a real shame, because the previous two movies were so well executed. The plot itself is interesting enough – is Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) a murderer or a man possessed? How do you explain away religious beliefs and exorcisms in a court of law? Had the film gone down a more horror/thriller route, there might have been a better movie in there. Instead, it all gets a bit silly and feels like a cheap B movie instead of a strong conclusion to the trilogy.

Directed by Michael Chaves – who also directed The Curse of La Llorona – the film heavily relies on the credible chemistry between its two leads, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. This couple essentially are the franchise, and their natural rapport really holds this film together when the plot starts to fall apart. Wilson’s Ed has had a heart attack and, as a result, is slightly slower off the mark than his wife. Hobbling along on a walking stick and constantly forgetting his medication, you do wonder at times if he has anything left in the tank. I really think that this trilogy is Wilson at his absolute best. Farmiga is resplendent as always. Without their presence in the film, there really isn’t too much to care about.

The Conjuring 3 Vera FarmigaThat’s not to say this is a truly terrible movie, because it isn’t. It just doesn’t hold up to the previous two. However, Ruairi O’Connor does give a good performance as Arne, dutifully sweating and contorting away as he battles whatever forces have taken over him. John Noble gives a suitably “is he creepy or just lonely” type performance as ex-priest Kastner, which adds another layer of tension to the overall story. The film is also beautifully lit and the costumes, as ever, are great.

There are a couple of well done jump scares – the hand through the water bed being an example – and there are also clear homages to the likes of The Exorcist and The Shining. It’s just a shame the quality of this movie is nowhere near as good.

I’m not sure what is in store for The Conjuring universe, but it’s clear that it needs to stay away from cheap horror gags and concentrate on the thrills and spills that made it so successful and loved in the first place. Perhaps it’s time for James Wan to pick up the mantle – or should that be the holy water? – once again.

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is in UK cinemas now.

Mary Munoz
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