The devil may have made the characters in this movie do it, but who in the hell made the filmmakers greenlight this threequel? What a waste of potential.
Continuing to follow the terrifying exploits of Lorraine (Mia Farmiga) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) as they investigate all that goes bump in the night, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It sees the Warren Family as they try to get to the bottom of a murder that might not be what it seems. Tasked with figuring out if demonic possession has anything to do with the case of a killer whom many believe could never have committed this unforgivable crime, Ed and Lorraine get back to what they do best: investigate the paranormal and commune with those on the other side of the veil to help in a way that only they can. What follows is an oddly human take on a kind of possession that’s quickly consuming someone whole, and one that’s risking the same fate for everyone around them in the process.
What became wildly apparent to me within the first twenty minutes of watching this film was how unlike the other two entries in this series it felt like. Directed by James Wan who’s become a staple in the horror genre over the years (fuck that Aquaman movie of his, though), the first two Conjuring movies felt like big budget horror done right with a sense of tone and look that jived well with the way the filmmakers were presenting their terrifying vision.
Though not perfect in their execution, those films did exactly what they set out to do and became a high mark for horror flicks that weren’t produced on a shoestring budget or saddled with terrible acting and an even worse script. Flash forward to this newest sequel helmed by a director that isn’t James Wan, and this franchise just effectively became the opposite of what those two previous films successfully pulled off.
Centering on a decidedly less interesting case of the Warren’s that deals with a man who may or may not have murdered someone under the influence of demonic possession, the initial hook might have felt ripe enough to have been considered for a movie treatment, but the overall execution of it leaves a lot to be desired. Having focused extensively on the supporting cast in the last two films to get a real feel for their struggles along with slow burn stories that eventually roped the Warrens into their newest plight, The Devil Made Me Do It feels way off compared to the previous two movies nearly from the get-go. With the script and general look of the movie never quite being able to mimic Wan’s original directing style nor the structure of those scripts that (admittedly) gave audiences a lot to chew on while simultaneously showing off some great cinematography and a sense of tension that was palpable, The Devil Made Me Do It feels like filmmakers making a knock-off version of the originals in ways that annoyed me.
Feeling like the usual half-assed horror schlock we get when a studio needs to make a quick buck while slapping a PG-13 rating on it just because they can, the “real life” case that’s used as the pillar of this film’s story becomes kind of boring almost immediately and is most definitely a step back from the wild, slightly off from reality realism the previous films embraced. Couple that with a sloppy sense of tension that led to scares that were simply bland, unoriginal or lacking in the style that made the last films great (though I will admit there are a few that stood out here and there), on top of an ending that effectively negates anything we’ve just witnessed as an audience, and I have a feeling there was a better idea to be used in a threequel that feels more like a contractual obligation more than anything else.
So while I truly enjoyed the first two entries in this franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is just not the movie is should and could have been. With a story angle that just isn’t intriguing after a certain point, to the change of creative minds behind the scenes, to the general mediocre execution of everything else, this sequel isn’t a travesty, it’s just something that shouldn’t have been a Conjuring movie to begin with.