Directed by Michael Chaves, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It once again stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren. Co-starring are Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, John Noble, Eugenia Bondurant, Shannon Kook and Julian Hilliard. The film hits UK cinemas on May 26, 2021.
One of the most sensational cases from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
In a world where “franchise fatigue” is an actual term, one could be forgiven for writing off The Conjuring Universe. But with The Devil Made Me Do It, the third film to carry The Conjuring name, director Michael Chaves have crafted the series’ most emotional and deeply disturbing film to-date. Following yet another of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s real life cases, The Devil Made Me Do It, breaks the franchise mould with something which feels incredibly original.
From the outset the film sets out to be something different. A huge opening sequence is easily one of the most ambitious scenes the franchise has conjured up. Intense and terrifying, it’s also one of the most violent moments in Conjuring history. It sets a precedent for a film which isn’t afraid to make bold choices in order to defy audience expectation.
Over the course of the franchise we’ve seen both Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) lose themselves in their work. For Ed it’s seeing his wife suffer at the hands of her demons. For Lorraine it’s losing a piece of herself every time she gives in to her abilities. But here the stakes are equal with both of the Warrens lives at stake. The bond between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga has never felt stronger on screen. More than previous films The Devil Made Me Do It both tests and relies on their bond.
The relationship they share, beautifully defined by a brief flashback to their first meeting, underpins many of the events in the film. Whilst it sounds corny to base a horror film on the idea of love conquering all, it works. It takes a story which, by design, embraces darkness and adds a much needed sense of hope. The sense of humanity which goes alongside it is what really pushes The Devil Made Me Do It to new heights.
The nature of Ed and Lorraine’s case also grounds the film more than we’ve seen before. Previously the franchise has handled possession and haunting from a place of classic horror. The familial idea of the haunted house of the possessed loved one. But this time around the idea feels even more deeply disturbing. Our own skepticism becomes a hurdle for the Warren’s to overcome in proving the so-called innocence of Arne (Ruairi O’Connor).
The film’s opening scene does a fantastic job of setting up Arne has a likeable character. Even during the demonic possession of David (Julian Hilliard) he shows a warm heart and strength of character. Those with a working knowledge of the case will know that Arne commits a brutal murder shortly after the exorcism. O’Connor plays him with a softness which makes it difficult to believe he may have been manipulating the Warren’s.
What seems to be a simple case of demonic possession quickly escalates. The Devil Made Me Do It is littered with Satanic ritual which really amps up the darkness of the story. Chaves has previously teased this film would be the darkest in the trilogy and that is easily the case. The emotional weight bares down on the characters and the audience in what culminates in an incredibly satisfying conclusion.
David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s screenplay crackles throughout. Easily the most exhilarating film in the franchise, this outing for Lorraine and Ed exudes confidence. Jumps are well executed with plenty of tense buildups that’ll have you hiding behind your popcorn. All the classic Conjuring tropes still exist but they’ve all been elevated to new levels along with the more mature story.
Whilst there is plenty of horror in simple demonic possession, rooting the film in a human act like murder really shines a new light on the franchise. The end credits feature a snippet from a television interview with Ed and Lorraine which easily sums up the feelings left after this film. What if we all could say “the devil made me do it?”
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the series most captivatingly dark entry to-date. Emotionally powerful and deeply disturbing, this one will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.
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