‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’, is the third venture into the world of the Warren family casefiles, bringing another one of their notable paranormal investigations to the big screen. This outing sees the case of Arne Johnson adapted to film. In 1981 Arne was accused of killing his landlord, yet at trial attempted to plea ‘Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession’ which, unsurprisingly caught the attention of the media at the time, and due to its supernatural angle, also saw Arne supported fully by the Warren’s.
As a fan of the films in the conjuring universe so far there’s no denying that James Wan has a knack of bringing fear to life, jump scares aside Wan is a master of atmosphere and no matter how many times we have to walk into a dimly lit basement with a torch I still get uneasy!
However, for this outing, director Michael Chaves (‘The Curse of La Llorona’) took the reins and whilst the Conjuring 3 certainly has its moments, its similarities to the aforementioned film are unfortunately too clear to see.
The plot introduces us to the Glatzel family, as the Warren’s are preparing to document an exorcism on 8-year-old David. Father Gordon comes rolling in like Merrin in a scene which is straight out of The Exorcist’s playbook. In all fairness the cinematography is on point and just like Merrin, Father Gordon arrives to the house under a poorly lit lamp post and forebodingly approaches the property ready to dance with the devil. The scene itself is impactful and it never ceases to amaze me how many different times seeing a body contorted could be so eerie to watch. In a turn of events Father Gordon gets the holiness slapped out of him and during the mayhem Arne commands the devil to take him instead.
Ed, suffering a heart attack during the exorcism witnesses the demon transposing to Arne before passing out. All goes calm…….for now.
A month passes and Ed awakes in the hospital, warning Lorraine of what he witnessed and to get her to alert the police. Seemingly it’s all too late, as Arne stabs his landlord 22 times. Now in custody the Warren’s meet with Arne’s lawyer to try and convince her that this was the work of the demonic. Whilst reluctant she gives them a chance to convince her to try and plea for possession (the first of its kind in the states).
At this point it’s worth mentioning that the mood of the film switches from paranormal to murder mystery, the Lorraine’s work backwards from the start of Arne’s case in a bid to find out why this has happened and where the demon is now. It’s also a good place to stop divulging into the plot, without fully ruining what follows, it’s certainly interesting watching the plot unfold, it’s just not all that scary. The remainder of the film leans heavily on the occult and witchcraft and the chances are you’ll see the see ‘the big reveal’ coming a mile off.
Ultimately the latest chapter of The Conjuring does have its moments, some genuinely creepy, some telegraphed and one fairly grim scene containing a bloaty corpse in a morgue, it just lacks in atmosphere. After the first scene however, its back to Chave’s telegraphed and all too scripted scares, ala La Llorona, and as a result, unless this is your first horror movie, you ain’t going to get a whole lot from it.
I am a huge fan of the “true” stories being adapted for film and if you stick around to watch the credits the real recording from the David Glatzel exorcism are pure nightmare fuel, I’ve never heard a laugh like that, spine chilling. There are even more high profile cases from the Warren’s in their repertoire so no doubt we will be seeing more from The Conjuring!!