The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It review – back down the rabbit hole

By Louie Fecou
Published: May 31, 2021
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It review - back down the rabbit hole


A sub-standard addition to the horror franchise that fails to deliver anything new or exciting.

This review of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is spoiler-free.

Well, the Warrens are back again, with another odd blending of the real and the imaginary, awkwardly shoehorned into another generic schlock scary movie.

The Conjuring franchise is almost comparable with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with spin-offs and connective tissue that runs through the various streams, and just like the MCU, there are ups and downs along the way.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It delves into the case of young  Arne, at the center of a murder case that he blames on demonic possession. The Warrens are of course on hand to try and help his case, as they were present at an exorcism that didn’t go too well, (do they ever?), and know that the demon, who has taken hold of Arne’s girlfriend’s younger brother via a strange water bed incident, has now possessed Arne, who then commits the murder before being taken in by the police. Oddly, Arne’s victim is never really mentioned again, but he’s portrayed as a drunk and a bit of a thug, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

As the case unfolds, the Warrens try to figure out the nature of the curse that has led to the demonic invasion and end up in a race against a Satanic curse that threatens to destroy everyone involved.

The minute exorcism is mentioned in horror movies, it’s hard not to think of The Exorcist. Friedkin’s film is so much part of the horror landscape that you simply cannot watch any depiction on film of the rite without making comparisons. With The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, you can see just how difficult it is to present the scenario realistically, and effectively, as this film fails to convince us of any kind of genuine threat, and often the whole thing lapses into almost self-parody.

The whole movie is sandwiched by an exorcism, and at no point do you feel involved or invested, a trick that the writer and director of The Exorcist pulled off so effectively over 40 years before.

Why does a film made in the 2020s fail to excite or scare modern audiences when there is a template readily available to them that shows how it could have been done? Well, the answer is simple: The Conjuring 3 fails to communicate with its audience in any way, offering up lame jump scares instead of creating tension, and providing us with two-dimensional characters that we either don’t know or don’t care to know.

Watching this film is a chore, even I suspect for fans of the genre, as it delivers nothing new, imaginative or creative, relying instead on cliché and tropes, and dressing it up under the banner of “based on a true story” as if to vindicate itself from criticism.

Well, it’s sad to say that this plodding, meandering production is a slow-paced slog that tries to be scary, but just ends up silly.

There is a plot that unfolds purely through exposition, an antagonist that is so ridiculously underwritten that it’s hard to even know their motivation, and lead characters that are just going through the motions. Lorraine Warren’s psychic ability only works when the plot requires it to; she can pick a murder weapon from a random selection of knives and find a murder scene, but cannot pick up on demonic influences from people that she is sitting in the same room with. When the audience knows who the bad guy is before the psychic main character does, there is something wrong with the script.

As the film trundles to some sort of an ending, nothing really makes any sense or even matters in this universe. There is some kind of pound shop exorcism going on in a prison hospital, yes in a prison, that seems to lack guards, rules and regulations, or other prisoners because nothing matters. Dan Warren is swinging a sledgehammer around as he is now possessed, but how can the demon be in control of two characters at the same time? Nothing matters.

As the credits roll, we get the usual newspaper clips of the real-life trial this film is based on, but it’s thrown at us in such a badly edited way, switching between real pictures and fake pictures, real headlines and fake headlines, so it’s impossible to ascertain the real from the fake, making it all just a mess.

This is probably one of the weakest Conjuring films yet, Age Of Ultron if you will, stale, uninteresting, and devoid of any real stakes. Why this weakly produced offering was ever thought to be a good idea is beyond me — maybe the devil made them do it.

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