The Thriller Made Me Do It
The Conjuring universe has had quite the ride over the years. From the lofty heights of The Conjuring to the middling mediocrity of The Nun, this horror franchise doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon.
Despite the questionable quality of the spin-offs and prequels in this series, The Conjuring films have been solid overall.
The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is a true return to form, managing to revitalize what makes these films so endearing while changing the focus from outright horror to more of a horror/thriller hybrid. The result is something lacking the same dread-inducing scares of old, but working surprisingly well to inject some much-needed urgency into the plot.
While the story does boast that it’s “based on true events”, aside from the basic outline and a few story beats, everything else is pretty much fiction. The focus this time shifts to the Glatzel family home, where Ed and Lorraine Warren find themselves struggling to free a boy called David who has been possessed.
With things looking bleak, and Ed suffering a heart attack in the process, Arne Johnson offers himself as a sacrificial lamb for this demon, pleading with it to take him instead.
In the aftermath of this, the demon lies dormant inside Arne, which is misinterpreted by those in attendance as it being successfully cast back to hell. Ed, the only person who witnessed this transfer, finds himself crippled and forced to try and recover, sitting this one out in the hospital for the time being.
However, it soon becomes apparent that this nightmare has only just begun, as the truth about Arne and the Glatzel family comes tumbling out. It’s the most difficult case Lorraine and Ed have faced, but with the cards stacked against them, will they be able to solve this before it’s too late?
Unlike cases past, The Devil Made Me Do It feels a lot more urgent, with a “countdown” trope thrown in for effect. The catalyst for this comes from Arne stabbing his landlord multiple times but claiming that the devil made him do it. This leaves it up to the Warrens to try and find evidence to convince a court of law that Arne was possessed and acting outside his own free will.
When it comes to scares, The Conjuring has always had some good ones but this film tends to devolve back into more jump scares than anything else. Given the perceived change of tone to one of horror/thriller, it’s hard to have too many grumbles with this.
However, Director Michael Chaves actually does a really good job with the sound design and camera work, emulating James Wan’s efforts to try and keep things consistent with the universe. There’s a lot of creativity with this too, typified by some trippy visuals and well-produced dream sequences.
Instead of being shoehorned into the story though, these actually serve a narrative purpose and the film is all the stronger for it. These also help to paper over some of the tired horror tropes that pop up. You’ve got your damsel in distress trip from a slow-moving foe, lights going out and the usual tense fake-out bumps in the night as well.
It also doesn’t help that the third act in particular feels quite rushed and the conclusion to the case feels more than a little corny. I wont spoil that here but suffice to say it’s a cringy narrative device, one that reinforces an earlier bite of foreshadowing.
One of the more surprising inclusions here though comes from the humour. There’s actually a few laugh out loud moments thrown in, which is pretty surprising given the heavy subject matter and homages to The Exorcist.
One joke sees Ed and Lorraine suggest a skeptic lawyer spend an evening with Annabelle. The next shot shows her frazzled and afraid in court. These moments of levity crop up throughout the film and add to the feel of this moving into thriller territory.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a confidently produced, surprisingly competent horror/thriller that leans into what made the first two films so endearing. While it may be the weakest of the trio, The Conjuring 3 proves there’s still some ghosts left in this franchise worthy of a good haunt.
Read More: The Conjuring 3 Ending Explained