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

When The Conjuring came out in 2013 I wonder if director James Wan and writers Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes had any idea that they had created a franchise that would continue for the next 8 years spawning sequels, spin offs and so much more.

Looking back, basing a movie on the real life cases of legendary paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren seems like the perfect pitch especially considering it was one of their most famous supernatural encounters that inspired The Amityville Horror story and the subsequent film series that emerged from it.

A classic haunted house horror The Conjuring won over audiences with a combination of sinister scares and excellent atmosphere. What elevated it above other horrors was the excellent chemistry of the two leads played by Watchman’s Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga from Bates Motel. Both superb actors their constant commitment to the characters gives the series an emotional centre and instant accessibility with the Warren’s binding together the prequels and sequels that came after The Conjuring.

Cleverly exploiting all of its assets the fear filled franchise has used characters and elements that appeared in the original film and its 2016 sequel The Conjuring 2, which was based on the infamous Enfield poltergeist, to supplement the main stories and provide subsequent intrigue and screams.

With Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation and Annabelle Comes Home dealing with the demonic doll featured in the first film and The Nun serving as a prequel for a spirit seen in the second, The Curse of La Llorona was a standalone story that was not only based on real Latin American folklore but also contained characters from the Conjuring Universe.

Joining the unstoppable run as the eighth instalment The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, is in fact the third real Conjuring film set in 1981 and opening with Ed and Lorraine Warren tackling the petrifying possession of an 8 year old boy David Glatzel (Wandavision’s Julian Hilliard) that takes an unexpected turn.

Based on the real life Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson which is unsurprisingly also known as the Devil Made Me Do It case, the movies main story sees a demonic force escape during the exorcism the Warren’s perform and enter into the body of Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) who is dating David’s sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook).

Although it appears David’s soul has been saved Arne’s is far from safe and he starts seeing a strange woman watching him. Experiencing disturbing visions Arne becomes confused and plunged into paranoia he is unable to tell reality from fantasy resulting in him horrifically murdering an innocent man.

Desperate to help her love Debbie reaches out to Ed and Lorraine for guidance and they manage to convince Arne’s lawyer to plead not guilty due to demonic possession, something unheard of at the time. With the future of a young man on the line the Warren’s must embark on a mission not only to prove Arne’s innocence but also unravel who or what is behind the unholy incident.

Causing a media circus at the time and inspiring a TV series entitled The Demon Murder Case as well as the book The Devil in Connecticut (written with the assistance of Lorraine Warren) the real life Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson is the perfect source material for a horror movie and with some added embellishment from James Wan and scriptwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (who also wrote The Conjuring 2) The Devil Made Me Do It more than delivers.

Racing along from its excellent exorcism opening to the in-depth investigation into Satanic practices and Devil worshippers involving several other cases of possession, The Curse of la Llorona director Michael Chaves keeps up an ominous atmosphere throughout.

There are some excellent effects and innovative camera work all of which help create the off kilter world Arne is thrust into once his mind is not his own as well as being used in scenes involving the strange powers Lorraine utilises to contact the dead and link the seemingly unrelated murders that could help prove their provocative theory.

As mentioned before Wilson and Farmiga hold the horror together giving the audience respite between the jump scares and providing tender pauses that are much needed in such an intense story. We are also treated to some great turns from the excellent John Noble from Lord of the Rings and Eugenie Bondurant who may well end up with her own spin off story in the future.

Overall The Devil Made Me Do It is a worthy entry to an excellent franchise that has more than proved its place and with another Nun movie and a film about The Crooked Man from The Conjuring 2 on the way, it seems the life of Ed and Lorraine Warren holds plenty more tales of ghostly undead terror to be brought to life for us all to enjoy.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ★ ★ ☆ 

Trailer:

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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2 Comments

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  • I couldn’t get over the fact that in the scene in the lawyers office right by the start, there was a copy of the book ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ on the bookcase…which wouldn’t be published for another 23 years at the time the film is set.

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    • Well spotted. Perhaps the demon was also a time traveller!

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