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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It takes place in 1981 in Brookfield, Connecticut, where Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a murder case that is linked to demonic possession.
The film opens up during an exorcism of an eight-year-old boy, David Glatzel. When the exorcism escalates out of hand, a family friend, Arne Johnson, invites the demon possessing the young boy to take him instead. After some time, Johnson is haunted by a demonic presence. He murders a friend in broad daylight, leading to his arrest where he pleads not guilty by reason of demonic possession.
Ed and Lorraine Warren work to prove that Johnson was in fact possessed by a demonic presence and he did not commit the murder.
This entry to The Conjuring universe franchise sees the return of Ed and Lorraine Warren, portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. It is hard to watch the films within the franchise that does not star these two actors. They bring the heart and chemistry that raises these films to more than just another horror film.
However, there is a certain style that is missing in this entry. That is James Wan, the director of the first two The Conjuring films. In his place is Michael Chaves, who previously directed another entry to this franchise, The Curse of la Llorona. It is obvious that he did his best with this film, but he could not bring these characters to life as Wan did.
Also, Chad Hayes, screenplay writer of the first two The Conjuring films, did not return either. David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, who had a writing credit on The Conjuring 2, took the screenplay writing mantle this go around.
It's hard to say whose fault this was. With Wan and Hayes absent from this film, this entry falls prey to be another boring and uninspired horror film within the franchise.
Wan stated that this was going to be different than the previous two films. He had said that they were going to stray from the haunted house set up that was prevalent in the previous two. And that is what hurt this film more than anything.
In first two Conjuring films, the Warrens spend time with the family that is being tortured by the demons. We see their interactions with the family. Lorraine hears stories about the family. Ed piddles on the families Chevy Bel Air in the first film, he fixes their sinks and plays Elvis on the guitar. They are there for the family, not only to cast away the demonic possession but to keep them from falling apart.
By the end of the film, the audience has gotten to know the family on a personal level. So, when it comes to the climax, we are on the edge of our seat and want to see the families turn out okay in the end.
In The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, there is no emotional impact because these characters suck. I did not feel as if the Warrens had a personal connection with Arne Johnson. So, when he is locked up in jail while the Warrens are trying to prove his innocence, I did not care a lick.
There was also little to no horror in this film. It had the horror elements, but none of the suspense and terror.
It is hard to compete with James Wan when it comes to horror, in my opinion. He has an eye for how to block a scene in a way that will have an incredible jump-scare payoff.
The demons that are in this film do not make sense enough for it to be scary. I never caught on if the main antagonist was even a ghost. There were moments where it seemed as if she was, but then Lorraine sucker punches her at one point. Maybe it's just me, but can a ghost feel it if you slam something against it's face? Just didn't make sense.
The frightening ghosts were not present in the third The Conjuring film, which is what you pay to see in these films. There were bits of scary scenes such as a character sees a random hand reaching around a tree or something. But none of the jump scares fit into the story at hand.
If you are wanting a scary horror film, you're better off skipping this one. Which sucks because the first two offers so many incredibly scary scenes that it'll make you jump out of your seat.
However, without the heart and characters, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It just falls flat. What should've been an explosive horror film became the biggest dud of the franchise.
It lacks all of the elements of a successful horror film that was so present in the first two entries. This entry is another generic, predictable, and boring horror film.
And the most disappointing film of the year goes to...