The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Warner Brother Pictures
Written by James Wan and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Directed by Michael Chaves
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant, Sarah Catherine Hook and Shannon Kook
“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their 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.
Ed and Lorraine Warren find themselves performing an exorcism in the beginning of the movie. One that doesn’t go as expected and results in one of the participants taking desperate action to save the soul of a young boy. In the aftermath, an injured Ed is taken to the hospital and no one realizes that the actions the young man Arne, took will open the door for a bigger tragedy to come.
Arne is arrested for killing his landlord and both Ed and Lorraine are convinced that his actions are the direct result of demonic possession. They are so convinced of that fact that they invite Arne’s lawyer to dinner at their house to convince her that the threat of the supernatural is real. The scene in court is probably one of the only real moments of levity to be found in a film that is absolutely serious about its subject. One of the things that have always impressed me about the films of the Conjuring universe is that they take the subject matter seriously even in the face of skepticism.
We all know the events of the film are heavily dramatized and “based on a true story” tagline is a stretch, but the plot never overplays the supernatural elements of the horror and that makes it work. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are great as Ed and Lorraine and their chemistry is always fun to watch. They have a feel for these characters and they play them perfectly. Beyond the darkness of the stories, the Conjuring movies have always portrayed Ed and Lorraine as being very much in love and you get that sense from this film as well. Especially in moment where their love is tested by mortality.
The ghost story and demon possession elements are done well, but can be a little slow at times for the 2 hour run time. There were also moments that felt like the director was holding back on the horror. That being said, the film does shine with its choice of antagonist. Eugenie Bondurant is perfect in her role and her connection to the events is interesting in its lack of cliché motivation. John Noble also gives a brilliantly creepy performance as a former priest and expert on the occult that Ed and Lorraine consult.
There are some good jump scare moments and the film does an excellent job of using the darkness and the environment to generate fear. The ending felt a little rushed and the resolution was a little too neat, but the film was utterly enjoyable as another entry into the Conjuring universe and definitely worth a watch for fans of that universe.