The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
Director: Michael Chaves
Writers: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and James Wan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, and Julian Hilliard
Plot: After a possessed man kills his landlord, the Warrens are brought in to prove that he wasn’t in control of his actions.
Review: I’m not gonna lie. I had my reservations about The Conjuring 3. Why? Just look at who directed this one. Not James Wan. The Conjuring has always meant quality. Sure, the spinoffs have largely not been great. But, under Wan’s leadership, The Conjuring 1 and 2 are some of the highest quality horror films to come out over the past decade. I am legitimately freaked out by those movies. With him departing though, I was worried that the central series might take a hit. And I was kinda right. It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but there’s definitely a dip in quality.
On paper, there’s nothing super special about those first two Conjuring movies. They’re kind of your typical, run of the mill haunted house flicks. In fact, some of the most iconic horror films of all-time are spun out of the same fabric these movies are, the Warrens and their “real life” adventures. But, to me, they always had that special edge because of how well constructed they were. Sure. It’s a bunch of jump scares. However, the buildup always had me at the edge of my seat. The payoff always landed exactly where it should. And, perhaps most importantly, it felt like a legit payoff. I never got mad at them for making me jump over stupid shit, because the things I jumped at were actually scary. Making me jump isn’t hard to do. Actually leaving me with an image that’ll haunt me even after my heart rate goes down is impressive. Wan always excelled at that. There are several moments in those first two movies that’ll stick with me forever. This one… not so much. The tension is still there. I was curled up in my seat several times. However, when the “scares” came, I was more often than not rolling my eyes. The timing felt off. The images themselves weren’t super scary. I will have no trouble going to sleep here in a little bit. And, after seeing a Conjuring movie, that’s pretty sad. It’s the difference between the director of The Conjuring and the director of The Curse of La Llorona. They might look like they’re doing the same thing. But one’s a master and the other’s just copying him.
I would definitely still put The Devil Made Me Do It above all of the spinoffs and, honestly, most other big budget horror though, because everything else was solid. Even though it wasn’t as scary, it still felt like a Conjuring movie. It’s still fun to explore creepy new scenarios with the Warrens. They’re an interesting set of characters, who actually bring a lot of heart into this franchise. I think James Wan had a lot of respect for Lorain Warren and that shines throughout the whole franchise. It’s rare to see this well developed of characters in horror. Likewise, Farmiga and Wilson have a lot of chemistry. They feel like the sort of loving couple who’d get into this sort of thing. If I wasn’t completely convinced they were con artists, it’d make me interested in deep diving into the real people. Something tells me they work better as fictional characters though.
I was definitely invested in this storyline too. The idea of someone being possessed by a demon, murdering someone and having to prove their innocence is very cool. I wish they had gone a little deeper into the court battle, because I think that’s a fascinating concept. But, I understand that’s not what type of movie they’re making. It’s a horror flick. They’re going to concentrate on that angle. And, while I usually get bored of possessions in movies, I thought they did a lot of fun, creative things with it here. It was like they were working with voodoo dolls. Without going into spoilers, I also dug that this wasn’t just another case where the Warrens stumbled upon a haunted house. There was an actual villain, which was refreshing. And, like I said before, all of the scenarios feel the same. The setups are spot on. I was on the edge of my seat a lot. You can tell it was the same creative team behind the script. It’s just that the payoff wasn’t there. I put that 100% on the directing, because it’s his job to make those scenarios work. Wan threw the perfect pass and Chaves still dropped the ball.
Overall, I still enjoyed The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. It’s not my favorite in the series. It’s definitely not the scariest. However, I still had a good time. The base of this franchise is still pretty strong. I’d be down for another adventure with the Warrens in a couple of years. Just, maybe with someone with a better eye for horror behind the camera next time.
TL;DR: While definitely not as scary as previous entries, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is still the fun, spooky adventure horror fans look to this franchise for.
Score: 7/10 (Good)