The Conjuring universe has grown quite a bit in the eight years since the original film landed in theaters, sparking eight films in total and already having a couple of more on deck. The Conjuring films are the foundation of this universe, with spinoffs often involving creatures that first appear in a Conjuring film. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It once again stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as paranormal investigators/demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren, but it’s the first time a Conjuring film hasn’t been directed by James Wan (with his last time behind the camera being The Conjuring 2 back in 2016.)
While Wan continues on as a producer and with a story credit, scriptwriters of the first two Conjuring films, Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes have also moved on after penning the first two films, and it’s a notable loss. That’s not to say The Devil Made Me Do It is a bad movie, it’s just that while spinoff movies such as The Nun, Annabelle, and The Curse of La Llorona were more formulaic in their presentation and storytelling, The Conjuring films themselves were ones that could be counted on to be strong movies in both scares and script. But with the core team gone, The Conjuring 3 feels more like one of the spinoffs in its delivery, hitting jump scares where expected, and not really leaving the viewer feeling as though they’ve witnessed anything of true substance once it’s done.
The idea for the story is an interesting one, focusing on an occultist who is using a curse to summon a demon to possess a target, causing them to kill someone before the demon can move on. This leads to Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) killing a friend of his while possessed, and being arrested for murder. Ed and Lorraine get involved, knowing Arne from a recent exorcism, and Ed being witness to Arne telling a demon to “take him instead” in order to save a young boy that was possessed. This case was actually true, and was the first American murder trial to use demonic possession as a defense.
The idea of Ed and Lorraine going up against a strong occultist who is summoning demons had potential, as it’s a worthy foe for them to do battle with in a film; however, a solid reasoning behind the curse or why it’s happening, or why certain people are being chosen isn’t overly clear. This causes the story to just continue along from jump scare to jump scare, while also leaning a bit too heavily on Lorraine’s clairvoyant powers to solve all its problems and simply feeling like more of the same instead of an exciting fresh, new chapter in the series.
While the acting is solid from those involved (Farmiga and Wilson are really the only reason for any sort of story investment,) there just isn’t much else to get excited about here, which is unfortunate considering it’s a Conjuring film in name and not just a spooky Universe spinoff where this type of paint-by-numbers scare-template is somewhat expected. I feel that Annabelle Comes Home is a stronger spiritual successor to the first two Conjuring films than this one, even though Ed and Lorraine are more supporting characters in that one.
But with that said it doesn’t mean that there isn’t an audience for this type of film out there, and if you’ve enjoyed everything that The Conjuring franchise has offered up thus far, The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It will likely deliver the eerie atmosphere, creepy ghouls and jump scares you’re after to help tide you over until the next installment of this demonic universe comes to light.
4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:
The 4K 2160p film transfer of the film looks as good as you’ll find, so while the Blu-ray still looks good and gets the job done, 4K is the way to go for some richer blacks – which will benefit the majority of the film that takes place in the dark. Everything looks sharp and clean, and when the ghouls do appear from time to time, the clarity adds to their effectiveness in the creepy department.
The audio mix is also strong, with a Dolby Atmos mix that’ll become Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you don’t have access to Atmos. Both work well, as the main focus of the sounds in the movie are to build up tension even when jump scares are obvious and then deliver those jumps with as much audio impact as possible.
The Occultist – This is a quick, four-minute featurette that focuses on the film’s baddie. We get to hear from Wilson and Farmiga, as well as director Michael Chaves, as well as the film’s producers James Wan and Peter Safrain.
By Reason of Demonic Possession – This is a five-and-a-half minute featurette that touches on the true story that this film is based off of. Of note here is that the real Arne Johnson and his wife Debbie are present to talk about the story, as well as the cast and crew above.
Exorcism of Fear – This featurette comes in at just under 6-minutes and sees the usual suspects of the cast and crew from previous featurettes joined by production designer Jennifer Spence, VFX supervisor Robert Nederhorst, stunt coordinator Glenn Foster and contortionist Emerald Wulf, who did all the crazy bending in the opening possession scene.
The Conjuring: The Lover #1 – This is a 13-minute video comic that joins other shorts in expanding upon the Conjuring universe. Fans should enjoy this one.
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It. Directed by: Michael Chaves. Written by: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant. Running time: 112 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on 4K Blu-ray: Aug. 24, 2021.
Tags: James Wan, John Noble, Julian Hilliard, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, The Devil Made Me Do It, Vera Farmiga