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Saturday, June 5, 2021

Movie Review: Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It
June 4, 2021
Directed By: Michael Chaves
Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook
Production Company: New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster, The Safran Company
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes (112 minutes)
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Paranormal
“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.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise the roles of Lorraine and Ed Warren, ghost hunters like the famous Han Holzer, who was way before all these paranormal investigators you see on Travel Channel and more these days. They are great in these roles. Sterling Jerins reprises her role as the Warrens’ daughter, Judy, that she played in the first two Conjuring films. There were new people in the film, but I was thrilled to see John Noble in a genre-related project again. I had enjoyed his roles in Fringe and Sleepy Hollow (plus a stint in one episode of Legends of Tomorrow). Here he plays a retired priest who I gather did exorcisms in his past. Although, it felt he was not at the top of his game with this role.

After detouring into spinoffs (“Annabelle,” “The Nun,” etc.), the franchise has gone back to focusing on demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren and another of their bizarre cases. There was something a bit different from the past two films in the Conjuring universe. Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It follows the real-life 1981 murder trial of Arne Johnson (after the movie, you will see video, recordings, and photos from that time). Arne Johnson claims he stabbed his landlord to death while under the influence of a demonic force.

The movie begins in 1981 Brookfield, Connecticut (although as we later learned in the film, David’s possession began much earlier than that—summer of 1979), a small suburban town that hadn’t seen one murder in its 193-year history. 

The Warrens are asked to view an exorcism of a young boy, David Glatze, brother of Arne’s girlfriend, Debbie. When the priest doing the exorcism is knocked out, and the demonic child attacks Ed Warren, Arne tells the demon to leave the boy and possess him, for the boy’s sake. Except obviously, Arne doesn’t realize what that will entail for him in the long run. 

There is a difference between this case and the other two films, but it notches up the horror with this demon is being summoned to cause the possessions. Music from the era gives us the sense of the early 80s, and the spooky, dark music reminds the viewer it is a horror movie, reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist (like when the priest arrives in a cab and stands outside, staring at the house, it reminded me of that spot in The Exorcist). 

Although many horror films focus a lot on the villains these days, The Conjuring movies return to the heroes who battle the darkness. The villain (not talking about the demon), was not as scary as could be.

So, grab the popcorn and curl up on the couch if you see this on HBOMax (as I did), or settle in a seat in the theater and prepare to fight the demon with the Warrens.

I gave Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It 4 1/2 demonic sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela Kinney

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