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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It

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2020

‘The Conjuring 3 feels dispiritingly more like a knock-off rather than an official continuation…’

We’re up to the eighth movie in the Conjuring series, but the third entry in the core franchise about paranormal investigators the Warrens is unfortunately the weakest to date. The breakout film here is The Conjuring 2, which harnessed a famous story (The Enfield poltergeist) brought in fresh locations (the UK in the 70’s) and brought a brand new set of scary bells and whistles to the ghost-hunter genre. Maybe it’s due to pandemic delays, maybe the mojo has been lost, but The Conjuring 3 feels dispiritingly more like a knock-off rather than an official continuation.

Played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, Ed and Lorraine Warren return to another real-life case, this time a courtroom case in which demonic possession was cited as a cause circa 1981. A demon sneaks out of a body during an exorcism and into the body of Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) who promptly murders his landlord while under the influence of Satanic possession. Ed and Lorraine suspect the involvement of a Satanic master and aim to track the culprit down while the demon plans another visit to Arne in jail.

And that’s your lot; plot-wise, this is easily a step down from the first two films. That said, there are some choice moments here, from a young boy’s encounter with a witch in a waterbed to a lovely chat between a cop and the Warrens where she teases him about her meetings with Elvis, alive and dead. It’s the only funny scene in a series once known for dark humour; thinking of the persuasive details on Conjuring 2, from The Goodies on the tv to the use of the Bee Gees I Started a Joke, there’s absolutely nothing like that at all in Michael Chaves’s film; the flavour is missing. It’s an elevated genre piece that someone forgot to elevate.

The Conjuring films have been better than required to date, largely due to the happy centre of Wilson and Farmiga, who both turn in strong performances here and push the narrative forward even when the story seems rote. James Wan’s franchise seems to have lost momentum in too many side-stories and dead ends, and unless Wan and co are nursing a seriously good idea to top the franchise off, the dull prison and basement finale here should provide a tired full-stop to a series collapsing under the weight of its own over-extension.

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  1. As with most of today’s horror, the good scares are spoiled in the trailer, and what is already a decent, spooky premise is over-stylized, exaggerated, and amplified beyond anything relatable. The fluorescent lights flicker constantly, there are never-ending possessed convulsions, CGI-saturated effects, and every single candle is somehow lit underneath the cavern of doom. I wish they aimed for more realism. It wouldn’t have been more scary…

    • Agreed. And yet the characters and the premise are fine. Horror doesn’t have to be style over substance, but the final scenes here, crosscutting two set pieces, end up being a jumble. There is, I suppose, still time for a more plot driven film to cap the franchise, but the detail seems to be ebbing away…

  2. Ha. I actually enjoyed this film and the first and hated part 2. Within the franchise it’s the opposite with the Annabelle films, the second is the best..the original is okay and the third sucks.

  3. On the plus side, the cinematography and special effects were fabulous. Some of the acting good; enjoyed background music, like London Calling. Film Auth, you hit on other positive highlights. The rest I found unamusing…
    Once upon…teens accused others of witchcraft in Salem, neighbors ratted on neighbors across EU; the Bell family in TN was besieged by an ancient witch summoned by a widowed, disgruntled neighbor; and in 1949, a boy in MD was exorcised by a church. Peter Blatty wrote a book about it based on a priest’s diary, and The Exorcist was born. Of Irish/Welsh stock, I became a ‘spirit/polterg/demon’ debunker in my late teens thru mid 30’s. Sadly, the alleged possessed folks I encountered needed a soft bed in Broadmoor; most of the homes visited needed a carpenter and termite inspector… The movie might have been more effective if it stuck to the truth. Real people, select Gov agencies/programs, some parents and religious establishments are being exposed as literal monsters, demons…That’s more scary than a form of misunderstood energy, e.g., in 2010 in London, a 14 year old lad was beaten to death and drown by his family during an exorcism. In America…

    • It’s well constructed for the genre. But having set up an interesting premise of investigating supernatural phenomena, the cases invested in the Conjuring films lack the real world implications that your experience might suggest. The exchange in this film about if God is evoked in court, why not the devil? Is interesting but not followed up. And as you say, the genuine horror of unrestrained establishment forces has led to authentic horrors that demonic possession can barely compete with.

  4. With these kind of movies, I can never tell if the people making it don’t believe in the supernatural at all (thus allowing them to do whatever they want with “rules”), if they do believe but want to tell a story more or if they really believe but want to deceive others into NOT believing.

    I usually go with option number 1….

    • Option 1 seems sensible, as the franchise goes on, it feels like a cash-grab…

  5. sure would be useful to have temporary demon possession at hand for a few of the ill-thought out choices I’ve made. I’m fine now – got me one of those exorcisms. I’ll get that money right back to you!

    • I’m always annoyed when they start trotting out the rules; The Demon can retreat to hell, but has to take a soul with him. Who Says? Who makes these rules? What happens if you break them? On the spot fines?

      I’ll set up a Go Fund Me page so that you can return the cash; glad the exorcism worked out for you!

      • And why do they always speak Latin? Is it just because it’s the most cantankerous of old languages foisted on a student public? Hellish in its lack of necessity but insistence of use?

        • They seemed very much tied into to bureaucracy, if I was a medical demon, I’d be narked at having to learn Latin and all these rules.

  6. This sounds a bit bonkers, The real Warrens sound like absolute idiots and charalatons but I take it the movies make it like their experiences were all true?

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