Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return for yet another frightening instalment of James Wan’s popular horror franchise with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. This time the Warrens face what is cited to be the eeriest case in their files as they investigate the trial of Arne Johnson following the murder of his landlord.
The eighth film in the series starts off promising with sickening body contortions and spine-tingling jump scares. This isn’t unfamiliar territory considering the previous Conjuring movies also thrust you straight into the terror but this one is uniquely unnerving because of how quickly the scenario escalates. There is barely a minute to gather your thoughts as the scene is filled with heart-pounding moments – each more distressing than the last. That being said, the narrative is set up extremely well here.
The events that unfold after the opening vary from tense and nerve-wracking to stalling the plot – in particular, the scenes that do not directly involve the Warrens. A good portion of the film is a lot of build-up towards jump scares, which for the most part still catch you off-guard when they occur, but the constant teasing eventually loses its buzz and becomes less effective as the story plays out. Although, there are a handful moments where this does pay off and they are complemented by excellent cinematography, sound and drastic light changes – Chauves’ usage of long takes prove to be the perfect execution in creating a claustrophobic tone.
There is definitely a different vibe with The Devil Made Me Do It as it plays heavily on satanism as opposed to ghosts and the supernatural. Unfortunately, this makes the film feel overly fictionalised, taking away the realism that had previously been drilled into the first two movies. Due to this, the film doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head when it comes to conveying fear factor. This is really the only negative aspect that stands out.
As always, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are sensational as paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they give their strongest performances within the series here – respectively and as a duo. All this instalment does is reiterate the fact that the pair are very much the heart of the franchise, keeping it grounded with a beautiful, compelling love story that brings a poignancy to the legacy of the Warrens and their work.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is by no means a horror flop, but it does lack the authenticity that made the original two films so enthralling. Though it is lacklustre in certain areas, the prominent presence of Wilson and Farmiga is captivating enough that these moments are easily forgotten. Overall, a solid addition to the genre and franchise with an unforgettable opening sequence.