Review- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

James Wan changed modern horror in 2013 with the release of The Conjuring. No one was truly expecting how much of a success this out-of-nowhere film was going to gain, nor did anyone expect the lasting legacy that The Conjuring would have on the genre. Eight years down the line the Conjuring Universe is now eight films richer, with four primary branches being explored (Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, and The Curse of La Llorona).

The reason for the depth of films primarily relies upon The Warren’s having explored a senseless amount of paranormal cases, reportedly in the thousands. Out of these occurrences, the most opportunistic and intriguing one has to be the murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, which saw a young man who stabbed his landlord more than twenty times plead not guilty because “the devil made me do it…

Directing is Michael Chaves who is no stranger to the Conjuring Universe after the box office failure of The Curse of La Llorona, and in true Hollywood fashion, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It drifts entirely from the actual case. Not once did Ed and Lorraine Warren successfully bring a demon to court with them, instead, the judge immediately dismissed the claim of ‘default by possession’, but movie magic has to perform its spell to deliver.

So, in this fictional ‘true story’ we have at the roots a film that primarily follows Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson starring as Mr. and Mrs. Warren as they sieve through a plethora of ghastly ghouls whilst acting as actual detectives on multiple police cases. Matching this is a selective amount of dimensional characters, a heart warming love story, and a well-rounded look that thematically blossoms throughout. 

It is undeniable that The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It has its appealing features, with one of the top notes belonging to the Warren’s themselves. Most of the runtime is devoted to them as they scour to find clues as well as reminisce about how they met; in fact we are delivered quite a warming love story

And for me, this is what has allowed not just this entry, but the previous Conjuring films to draw fans in, we can’t help but adore a continuation, something steady to follow no matter how cliché the story gets. 

However, this is not a romance film at the basis, but instead a ‘supposed’ terrifying story of possession. But this is where the positive aspects begin to wallow. Joining the Warrens are our other leads, the harmless perpetrator Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) and his partner Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook). As aforementioned, we see Arne become possessed and brutally murder his landlord whilst in the presence of Debbie, but she stands by his claims and is at his beck and call.

They spiritually embody a younger version of Ed and Lorraine whose bond is unbreakable, and I do have to admit that I was immersed in their theatrics and their overarching outcomes did matter to me. Chaves certainly relies on fleshing out fruitful characters to deepen backstories and strengthen the spine of the narrative. 

Clearly, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It has plenty of heart, but does it have any brains? Now comes the rapid downfall that sinks in just when we should be gripping to the edge of our seats. Unfortunately, Chaves’ bad luck from The Curse of La Llorona has followed him as the scares are certainly stretched thin. I watch a hefty amount of horror films every week so eventually, I do adapt to pre-packaged plot devices, particularly the dreaded jumpscare.

The sudden appearance of a daunting image accompanied by a swell in orchestral strings has plagued the genre for a dreadful amount of time. That is not to say that jumpscares are impossible to effectively use, with some of horror’s greatest scenes deriving from the tactic, including that terrifying scene in The Descent where the hideous humanoid appears behind a woman’s shoulder, or when the bright red demon appears out of nowhere in the infamous Insidious scene. Chaves on the other hand used them extensively to the point of being formulaic, where anyone could have seen them coming a mile off. 

Similarly, the entire film’s structure could be described as exposition, silence, jumpscare, exposition, silence, jumpscare; and so forth. What happens with this predictability is the essence of familiarity, and ultimately boredom. Sitting through a film that is 1hr and 52 minutes where you can see every single climax before it even happens is challenging, but what added to this was the constant tangent that the film drifted off to.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Johnson’s possession claim was immediately dismissed as legally there was no way to prove innocence, instead, the lawyers went down a self-defense route. Obviously, if the film would have followed reality then everything would have been solved in under an hour, but to uphold feature film requirements there needed to be plenty of filler

The gauzes to pad the film were dull, with unnecessary deep dives into other possession murder cases being explored by the Warrens. The overexertion dragged the film out until my attention had nearly completely broken down. 

My overall thoughts remain unbalanced, with neither a love nor hate opinion residing. Alternatively, I enjoyed the refreshing involvement of character arcs but was entirely let down by the extraneous shelling out in an attempt to deliver a ‘wide’ film. At times films with grand budgets get lost in the freedom of finance, with a favouring in exploring dozens of locations and expensive exterior shots; whereas indie films have to be good internally as there is no opportunity to fill in the gaps with pricy stills.

A keen focus to honing in is what The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It desperately needed, and more importantly the entire franchise needs to form its dedication to the genre better and take a note out of The Conjuring’s (2013) book of expertise.

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


This week in horror – 4.6.21

Upcoming Megan Fox horror Till Death gets an official release date

Megan Fox’s return to horror has been highly anticipated ever since it was announced early last year that S.K. Dale had cast Fox in his new thrilling horror. Till Death follows Emma (Fox), a shaken woman who has been handcuffed to her dead husband thanks to a malicious revenge plot.

The already horrific events soon take a turn for the worst as she has to race against two killers who are en-route to ‘deal’ with her as well. Straight away the key story elements ring similar to Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King’s original novel, Gerald’s Game. However, Dale along with writer, Jason Carvey, promises that Till Death will not work on a subliminal note, instead favouring a full-throttle thrill, promising the audience as a film to remember. 

Distributors Screen Media have announced an official release date of July 2nd this year.

Hellraiser reboot heads directly to Hulu’s streaming service

Who would’ve thought that Clive Barker’s 1987 horror based on sadomasochistic creatures would become a massive franchise with a total of 10 films behind its belt, alongside comic books, novels, and video games?

Now, the franchise is expanding yet again with the latest Hellraiser set for a direct VOD release, with streaming giant Hulu being the first to pick up the distribution rights. Plot details have been kept sorely secretive, but we do know that the acclaimed David Bruckner will be behind the director’s chair yet again. His previous credits include segments in both V/H/S and Southbound, as well as bringing Adam Nevill’s novel The Ritual to life on the big screen. 

Horror legends, Tony Todd and Tobin Bell join forces in the highly anticipated sci-fi horror, The Bunker 

Tony Todd is best known for his villainous role in the Candyman films, with Tobin Bell also portraying the antagonist in the Saw franchise. And now these two horror icons will team up to tackle aliens from a mysterious planet in The Bunker.

The film revolves around an alien invasion and an underground bunker, where we’ll follow a scientist as they must concoct a bio-weapon to prevent the aliens in their tracks before they rule dominance over earth. The upcoming exploration into the extraterrestrial is currently in production. Todd and Bell’s official roles have not yet been announced, but we do know that they will co-lead the film, alongside Chelsea Edmundson, who had a brief role as the Bride in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. 

Season 4 of horror TV show ‘Slasher’ set for a Shudder release

The Canadian-American horror series has made quite the name for itself, with news of the fourth season being very welcomed amongst fans of the anthology-style show. So far across three seasons we have seen a mysterious serial killer tackle a small town in the brilliant first season, following is season 2 where we see a crew of camp counselors return to a campground where they murdered a fellow counselor, and lastly, season 3 follows a group of neighbours who neglected to help during a murder that happened in front of their complex during the summer solstice period.

The fourth season will surround a mishmash wealthy family with their own share of inner turmoil, all the while being killed off one by one on a secluded island. Officially titled Slasher: Flesh and Blood, the latest instalment will be released via Shudder in an early August premiere date. What’s even more exciting is the fact that the one and only David Cronenberg stars as the ruthless head of the family, in what seems like a combination of Ready or Not, Knives Out, and Friday the 13th. 

A Quiet Place Part II comes back with a silent bang as it tops the box office within days of its release 

A Quiet Place rushed through cinema with ease with the first installment taking in nearly $350 million since its 2018 release. News of its sequel was announced within days of A Quiet Place being released, so let’s just say that the success of the sequel was imminent. However, as with many films due to be released in 2020, restrictions forced the film to suffer from multiple delays. The wait seems to have luckily paid off as Part II has smashed the box office worldwide as the growing total is currently at $83 million, within just a week of its release. To meet this is the rapid acclaim that John Krasinski’s apocalyptic vision has gained, with both critics and audiences admiring the portrayal of a family struggling with literal monsters, as well as praising the addition of Cillian Murphy’s character. 

Clown documentary Behind the Sightings finally unveils trailer and an official release date 

The 2016 clown crazes went above and beyond, with numerous videos going viral of creepy clowns stopping cars on dark roads, meeting strangers at lift entrances and most frighteningly there were ‘rumours’ that people were using the prank knowledge of these videos to commit immoral deeds without people thinking they were being serious… 

Adding to the film’s fright factor is the mysterious background of Behind the Sightings. Supposedly, this found footage ‘docu’ is real, as we follow an actual couple documenting the clown epidemic. Typically the notice of true stories is an obvious marketing technique, but Behind the Sightings have taken a step outside the box and created such a genuine and secretive portrayal that have convinced many that the film is 100% non-fiction.

Eager viewers will finally get to decide for themselves whether this is true or not, with the DVD and VOD release date scheduled for July 7th

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.