The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Review: The Conjuring Universe continues to return to form
The Conjuring Universe finally brings the Warrens back into the spotlight as they deal with another demonic endeavor in the newest mainline film, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
Now, we’ve seen plenty of spin-offs within the Conjuring Universe with films that focus on some of the more well-known demonic antagonists, but there’s always a hint of the mainline Conjuring films felt within. Honestly, Annabelle Comes Home was kind of like a “Conjuring 2.5.” However, although it carries a subtitle fitting for a spin-off, The Devil Made Me Do It is the Conjuring 3 fans have been waiting for both in story and style.
This entry once again sees Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren attempting to help another family whose young child has become possessed by a demonic entity. The opening to this film embodies everything great about these Conjuring films that’s sometimes absent from the spin-offs. The scares are incredibly thrilling and instantly adds this intensely chilling vibe to the entire situation that sets the tone for the film. Everything with the family’s youngest child, David (Julian Hilliard), being possessed is perfectly creepy and crazy. The opening also greatly sets up the two major elements of this movie in uncovering the truth behind this demonic force as it begins to control the family’s daughter’s boyfriend Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) and the Warrens facing some personal challenges.
Ed and Lorraine are the absolute heart of the Conjuring Universe, and this film is a testament to why. Wilson and Farmiga’s chemistry is better than ever, and the film does a great job using the love within their relationship to create real stakes with how their time with this case really puts their lives on the line. The opening exorcism ends up giving Ed a heart attack that’s a persistent threat throughout the film as things get tenser and more dire in the case. Lorraine’s clairvoyancy sometimes puts her in deadly situations and in some ways, she meets her match in the evil entity that presents herself later in the film. There are more personal stakes for Ed and Lorraine this time around that make this their most dangerous case seen on-screen yet and there are times where you question how things are going to end for them.
Between the moments of horror they endure, the film also finds ways to pay homage to their loving relationship and delivers touching scenes that are refreshingly heartwarming. These two constantly being at each other’s side and even delivering some welcomed humor at times would be enough to make their return a lot of fun, but this film goes the extra mile. The glimpse we get into the early days of their relationship and seeing it play a role in the ending is super heartwarming and full of emotion. There’s a big standout moment with a locket that’s surprising and incredibly sweet. As said before, the Warrens are the heart of this series and its great that this film further fleshes out their characters and continues to make them endlessly enjoyable. It even presents a good endcap for them if this is it. Frankly though, I could watch Wilson and Farmiga do this for years on end.
As for its demonic plot, it’s mostly successful in delivering strong scares and subverting expectations. The usual set up and formula for scares are here and are mostly effective in delivering good jolts. The use of shadows and excellent patience in ramping up the tension and suspense to suddenly deliver shocks is good enough to keep viewers on their toes. There’s definitely a noticeable formula here that’s seen throughout this series and some scares are predictable and lack memorability because of this. Outside of its main antagonist, the film also doesn’t create any other kind of intrigue for other demonic entities or characters – which is kind of disappointing because that was a major part of the fun of Annabelle Comes Home. However, it’s hard to say this formula’s run stale since it sure worked on one of the girls in my theater because every scare made her deliver this ear-piercing scream. It was actually pretty awesome and good showing that this series has still got it.
The story itself is also very interesting with how it diverts itself from just being a standard exorcism/demonic possession plotline. The film actually has a more human antagonist that’s incredibly interesting with how she becomes a tough match for Ed and Lorraine. She’s eventually able to get inside Ed’s head to almost make him do horrific things and even messes with Lorraine’s clairvoyancy. It’s very thrilling to watch and creates shocking moments that feel unexpected.
The history behind the central curse enacted by this demonic looking woman feels right at home with this series and the survival story of Arne trying to combat this demonic entity has moments that leave you on the edge of your seat. It’s also incredibly well-paced and there was never a moment where it feels like the film is trying to rush to a scare or plot reveal. Admittedly, the way things wrap up through a corny “love conquers all” sequence left me a little underwhelmed, but it does feel earned with how the relationships are built and leaves you satisfied enough to look past its corniness.
The Conjuring Universe continues to return to form with another strong and scary entry that makes you continue to gush over Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens and want to see more of this universe unfold. The Devil Made Me Do It might not be as strong as its two predecessors at times but solidifies this trilogy as one of the strongest in the genre.