“The Conjuring” cinematic universe/series has been a horror ride of varying degrees. It’s had its great highs and its depressing lows (Ahem—“Annabelle”), and in spite of delivering two genuine horror classics, the mainline movie series can’t quite escape the dreaded curse of the third film. While “The Devil Made Me Do It” is not at all a bad movie per se, it’s not high in scares or tension as the first two films. The first two movies relied on mounting tension and absolute terror, while “The Devil Made Me Do It” feels a lot more like if they took the series and tried to turn it in to a crime procedural.
“The Devil Made Me Do It” is based on their 1981 case where, after a near fatal and unsuccessful exorcism, they’re forced to revisit the case once again. This time the possession has passed on to Arne Johnson, a young man who murders a friend in cold blood and is found by a police officer with no memory of what he’d done. Insisting possession compelled him to commit the heinous crime, Ed and Lorraine are called on to investigate a mystery that involves witchcraft, revenge, and a hideous curse.
Director Michael Chaves, while a solid director never quite lives up to the flair of James Wan, and a lot of the third film’s scares are few and far between. That said, “The Devil Made Me Do It” still packs a wallop, continuing the saga of the Warrens and raising the stakes. The once strong Ed Warren is stricken with a near fatal heart attack after a botched exorcism in the film’s prologue. Now he’s mostly hobbled, reserved to literally risking his life every time he stresses himself out, as he and Lorraine struggle to save the life of a young man.
This injects significant tension compensating for the film’s lack of more powerful scares. The idea of the crime that ensues is examined more as a supernatural event, and the writers manage to concoct some great scenarios including a very creepy experience in a morgue. “The Devil Made Me Do It” might end up being more for completists in the long run, but it’s a solid horror entry in the growing cinematic universe, with beautiful turns by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, as always. I, of course, look forward to more from this film series.
This two-disc release ships with a Digital Copy redemption slip. The bonus features can all be found on the Blu-ray. Featured is the four minutes The Occultist, examining the main antagonist with comments by director Michael Chaves; producers James Wan and Peter Safran; and actors Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Eugenie Bondurant. The Five Minutes By Reason of Demonic Possession is a brief and very surface-level account of the true story that inspired the film, featuring interviews with many of the participants above as well as the real-life convicted murderer Arne Johnson and his dutiful wife, Debbie. Don’t go in to this expecting a true life account as it’s more sensationalist fluff for the movie.
The six minutes Exorcism of Fear includes production designer Jennifer Spence, stunt coordinator Glenn Foster, VFX supervisor Robert Nederhorst, and teenage contortionist Emerald Wulf, who doubled for eight year-old David Glatzel — return for a short but interesting breakdown of the set construction and opening scene. We also get a brief recording of the actual David Glatzel exorcism, which plays in full during the end credits. Finally, there’s The Conjuring: The Lover #1 a video comic that extends the Conjuring Universe further with an original story credited to multiple writers and artists which was released in print form back in June. It’s done with decent voice work, music, and transitional effects. A Digital Copy for this comic is also included in the case.