The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It proves Ed and Lorraine Warren can make up for an uneven new chapter in this universe. The eighth entry in The Conjuring Universe decently abandons the haunted house formula but forgets to build on any characters that aren’t our paranormal investigators. Lacking the earned scares the previous two had, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opts for cheap scares and suffers from pacing issues. This third entry may not deliver the chills from the previous two but still showcases why The Conjuring films are the strongest in this universe.
James Wan’s absence was the biggest concern for this third outing, luckily his departure as the director isn’t a massive issue. Based on the true story that shocked America, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It combines true elements with its own satanic story. It creates ties to the original film as well as the Annabelle trilogy. Directed by Michael Chaves, and written by David Leslie and Johnson-McGoldrick. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It stars Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, Ruairi O’Connor, and Eugenie Bondurant. The film centers on Arne Johnson (O’Connor), a man put on trial after being accused of murder. Claiming demonic possession as his defense, The Warrens (Wilson and Farmiga) go on a supernatural investigation to prove his innocence, but they soon learn the only thing scarier than demons are the humans that conjure them.
Our pair of paranormal investigators are the heart and soul driving this third outing. Having watched Ed and Lorraine save two families, express endless love for each other, and face unspeakable evil, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It understands that bond and puts it into focus from start to finish. However, in the previous films, The Warrens didn’t take up so much screen time to the point that those they are helping become irrelevant. The script is compelling in many ways, but the lack of attention on Arne Johnson makes this story uneven compared to its predecessors. Arne and his family are introduced in what many will consider the best opening sequence in the trilogy but after a semi-successful exorcism, they take a backseat. This is very much Ed and Lorraine Warren’s story, which works because you get to spend more time with the two heroes who are likable characters.
Still, Arne Johnson, his girlfriend Debbie Glatzel (Hook), and David Glatzel (Hilliard) deserved more focus. Since The Warrens are characters fans of this franchise are already interested in, this search to prove Arne’s innocence isn’t a dull watch, but you’re mostly hoping they are successful in their hunt. The lack of focus on Arne leaves little room to care what happens to him or his loved ones, which isn’t how the last two films were handled. The verdict that comes isn’t going to evoke an emotional response at all because the character is left in the shadows too often. Also the scares this time are not built up, they are spaced-out jump scares that feel hollow. Thankfully the co-writers take pleasure in showcasing The Warren’s love, paying homage to classic horror films like The Exorcist, The Shining, and even Nightmare on Elm Street 4.
Wilson and Farmiga once again shine in their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. There is undeniable chemistry between the two that gets better in each film. Farmiga seems determined to outshine Wilson, which she had done in the previous two films as well. Wilson’s portrayal as Ed will have viewers on the edge. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It places him in a health predicament that will cause concern in every unsettling situation he finds himself in. O’Connor’s performance as Arne is fine for what it is, despite his character feeling irrelevant at times he will make audiences understand the confusion and fear racing through Arne’s mind. Chaves makes up for his shortcoming with The Curse of La Llorona, filling in Wan’s position as the director didn’t turn out to be a complete mess. While there are some pacing issues, Chaves keeps the film engaging, and delivers some great shots.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the weakest entry in The Conjuring trilogy, but it’s still a fun watch that fans of this universe will appreciate. It offers the scares, heart, and intriguing satanic activity that you’ve come to expect. While The Warren’s focus may have been a bit too much, this latest entry shows that Wilson and Farmiga’s on-screen chemistry will always make up for the narrative shortcomings.