TL;DR – What starts with an interesting and creepy premise nevertheless does not have the pull to make it through to the end.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Review –
To be honest, The Conjuring as a series is not one that had piqued my interest before. Indeed I have never watched any of the other films and spin-offs before. But I knew they were famous, and there was a real following for the franchise. However, the film’s story is based on the event where someone pleaded not guilty because of demonic possession. Well then, now you have me interested.
So to set the scene, in the town of Brookfield, Connecticut, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are helping a local family out after their son David (Julian Hilliard) was possessed by a demon. The demon presents itself in all its power, ripping the house apart and giving Ed a severe heart attack. Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) compels the demon to leave the boy and enter him in the chaos. Only Ed sees this, but he soon passes out. Ed makes it through surgery. However, by the time he can tell what is going on, a boy is walking down the street of Connecticut covered in blood.
While this did end up feeling like a flawed film, that is not to say there were no excellent aspects. Indeed, on the whole, even when it is not coming together, it is still very watchable. The first thing I want to should out is the production. While they did some tweaking in post-production, I was impressed with how many of the effects were captured in-camera or achieved through clever editing, not every scene but a good chunk of them. An excellent example of this was a demonic attack up through a water bed, which hit home a little more for me because, as was the still at the time, my parents had one. So there was a vivid nostalgia the got ripped out from underneath me. Also, while I didn’t find the film particularly scary, many people in the audience watched the movie who had the opposite reaction. Though I will say, it was odd to hear many musical tracks from other films throughout the run time.
Another strength of the film is its cast, which mostly feels like they are here for the bonkers scenario. As this is the fourth film they have stared in, it is no wonder that leads Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga fall back into their roles without skipping a beat. This is important for the film, especially as it starts to go off the deep end in the third act because they help keep it at least a little grounded. Also, a big shout out to Julian Hilliard, who plays a wonderful terrified/possessed child, also helps sell the best moments of the film, showing you don’t need jump scare to be effective. It should also go without saying, but if you can hire John Noble, you 100% should hire John Noble. He also helps with many of the more comedic moments in the film, which was quite a surprise.
However, now we come to the but, and like my own, it is a big but. When watching the film and the direction it takes in its second and third act. Well, I couldn’t help feel a bit yuk, as if I was helping to exploit someone’s trauma. While the film bills itself as ‘based on a real event’, the murder and the trial that follows are nothing more than window dressing to a supposed larger satanic cult, which is the actual main storyline. This first has the effort of cutting off the entire premise that the film is marketed on. But more than that, it feels like the film uses the actual murder of a human being by another troubled human as a popcorn filler for their fictionalised versions of real people to have a wacky adventure. I am not sure where this lands on the yikes scale, but it is on it. This is all made worse when the big reveal they ditch this for lands like a thud in the underwhelming third act.
In the end, do we recommend The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It? Well, I am not sure it all comes together, but some elements meant that it was watchable for the entire runtime. It is just a pity that much of it got lost in the translation from the actual event to the screen. Well, everything but Vera Farmiga’s entire period-perfect wardrobe. If you like The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, I would also recommend to you The Invisible Man.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Directed by – Michael Chaves
Story by – James Wan & David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Screenplay by – David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Based on – Characters created by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes
Music by – Joseph Bishara
Cinematography by – Michael Burgess
Edited by – Peter Gvozdas & Christian Wagner
Production/Distribution Companies – New Line Cinema, The Safran Company, Atomic Monster Productions, Warner Brothers Pictures & Universal Pictures
Starring – Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, John Noble, Eugenie Bondurant, Shannon Kook, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Steve Coulter, Ingrid Bisu, Andrea Andrade, Ashley LeConte Campbell, Sterling Jerins, Paul Wilson, Charlene Amoia, Mitchell Hoog & Megan Ashley Brown
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: E13; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R