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Watch The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want to Know About a Great Movie

 

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

The Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Trailer

 

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Reviews

There is a point in Michael Chaves’ frustrating and only sparsely scary “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” when you realize something: if you abandon your desire to watch a terrifying haunted house movie in the vein of James Wan’s “The Conjuring” and settle for the investigative thriller that you have in front of you instead, you might have a decent time.

Don’t worry, there’s no way for you to miss that utterly pronounced scene, especially if you’ve watched a David Fincher movie or two. There is a creaky basement. A creepy old man leads the way to it. He might be the Zodiac killer (okay, not exactly, but something along those lines), and yet, someone who barely knows him follows him down all the same, just to gather some evidence around a series of murders.

Had that point never arrived, I could have more easily dismissed the third “The Conjuring” installment—a straight sequel chapter after a number of spin-offs like “Annabelle” and “The Nun” with varying degrees of smarts, skill and scares—as a horror movie that can’t be bothered to live up to its breathtaking origins.

Again, this outing manages to operate as a mediocre police thriller to some degree; but one with too many suspects and incidents-within-harrowing incidents. A mysterious serial murder case emerges amid the film’s confusing tone and someone obsessed enough with its puzzling details has to voluntarily go down the rabbit hole in order to crack it.

But who the hell actually wants the new “The Conjuring” to be downgraded to a mere whodunit anyway, when its original predecessor is still one of the most brilliant and frightening horror movies of the 21st century? If you’re not that person, this film’s array of hollow jump-scares and uninteresting secrets that culminate in short-lived thrills is unlikely to impress you, despite some successful effects and elegant camerawork by cinematographer Michael Burgess.

Still, “The Curse of La Llorona” filmmaker Chaves gives it a shot, directing Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as they once again portray paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren wrapped up in a based-on-a-true-story case. The prologue here takes place in 1981, when the exorcism of the adolescent David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) leaves Arne Johnson, a good-spirited young man in a loving relationship with David’s sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook), haunted by the grip of an evil force.

When Arne commits a horrific murder in the aftermath of the events that use one too many recognizable visual nods to “The Exorcist” (including a laughably obvious shot of a priest standing by a soft street lamp with a suitcase in hand), the Warrens slowly uncover similar crimes that took place in the area. So they embark on a quest to prove to Arne’s apprehensive lawyer that Arne was actually possessed while committing the crime. (His real-life case apparently marks the first time in the US where demonic possession was used as defense in a court case.)

Screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick throws in plenty of “The Conjuring” universe references into his script, including an inspired joke with Ed suggesting to introduce Arne’s skeptical lawyer to the cursed doll Annabelle to clear a few of her questions up. But ultimately, the story struggles in the hands of a strange on-and-off rhythm that almost feels episodic as the Warrens team up with the local police, knock on doors, venture out into the forest, crawl around basements, and collaborate with customary religious figures to follow the devil’s tracks.

The basic idea gets overstuffed and overstretched, ultimately losing its clutch on the audience, especially when the plot ventures out to another similar murder case between two girlfriends and distances itself from the main event for long and dull stretches of time. So much that when Ed and Lorraine come to understand the witchcraft-y nature of their case, you might run out of reasons to care for their mission, or worse, forget what they were out there chasing to begin with. Things don’t improve much even after Eugenie Bondurant’s chillingly witchy Occultist shows up.

There is no denying that Wilson and Farmiga have come to portray two of the most iconic figures of contemporary horror. That familiarity, down to the Warrens’ customary sculpted hairdos and old-fashioned, thoughtfully costume-designed clothes, is both comforting and transfixing—we somehow came to want to spend time with this duo and perhaps even to feel safe in their presence.

But our goodwill and sense of nostalgia for the Warrens goes only so far in this third film. One almost wishes Chaves and Johnson-McGoldrick had not tried to reinvent the wheel, and instead just stuck with the franchise’s sophisticated simplicity and tried-and-true paranormal formula. Without a focal haunted house, this one just doesn’t feel like a film that belongs in “The Conjuring” universe.

  • Tomris Laffly –  Roger Ebert
  • Tomris Laffly is a freelance film writer and critic based in New York. A member of the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), she regularly contributes to RogerEbert.com, Variety and Time Out New York, with bylines in Filmmaker Magazine, Film Journal International, Vulture, The Playlist and The Wrap, among other outlets.

Beware the third installment of any series. For even some of the best-conceived and executed franchises, the third time is often not the charm. It’s when things start to fall apart. It’s when ideas dry up. It’s when the creators, writers, and directors find themselves regurgitating past hits in an attempt to keep things going. The genre is irrelevant; it’s difficult to name more than handful of titles when #3 is a worthy entry.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It doesn’t buck the trend. During the course of the film’s 112-minute unspooling, there’s a sense that the premise is running out of energy and that, at least insofar as these characters are concerned, the best is in the rearview mirror.

Although The Devil Made Me Do It is officially the third Conjuring movie, there have also been five spin-offs, bringing the franchise total to eight. Previously, there was a clear division in quality between the main-line films (The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2) and the ones featuring Annabelle, The Nun, and The Crying Woman.

The Devil Made Me Do It brings the Warren stories (those featuring Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren and Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren) more in line with the second-tier satellites. It’s an adequate horror movie with the requisite atmospherics and jump-scares, and it provides Conjuring fans with their fix. However, as the latest chapter of what is now a trilogy, it’s a disappointment.

As with The Conjuring and its first sequel, The Devil Made Me Do It bears the “based on a true story” label. Since the filmmakers are significantly more interested in crafting a tale with things that go bump in the night than in making a documentary, it should come as no surprise that considerable liberties have been taken with the facts of the case.

Drawn from the files of the (deceased) real-life Ed & Lorraine Warren, this one takes place in 1981 and focuses on the murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), whose defense is that he is “innocent by means of demonic possession.” The Warrens, who are present at the time when the possession occurs, are brought on board to investigate.

Ed, recovering from a heart attack, is limited in what he can do so Lorraine takes the lead and the couple relies heavily on her clairvoyant abilities. They learn that Arne’s possession is the result of a curse cast by the mysterious Occultist (Eugenie Bondurant) and there’s more at stake than an innocent/guilty verdict.

The Devil Made Me Do It opens with a prologue and first act worthy of its predecessors. The exorcism of eight-year old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) pays homage to The Exorcist in several of its particulars, including the opening image of a man approaching a house.

This segment of the film is eerie and effective with echoes of a powerful evil as it introduces the concept that, despite all their knowledge and experience, Ed and Lorraine aren’t immune. The exorcism is seemingly successful but the post-possession lull doesn’t last. It soon becomes apparent that the demon has passed from David to Arne. It emerges to commit murder in a blood-drenched scene that makes use of the Blondie song “Call Me.”

By abandoning the haunted house setting of the first two Conjuring movies – an approach that kept everything constrained and used the locale to amplify the horror – The Devil Made Me Do It spins out of control, splitting up the main characters and sending them on wild goose chases that pay minimal dividends.

The ultimate villain is disappointing and the final confrontation is anticlimactic. Putting aside the prologue exorcism, there’s little in the movie that could be considered frightening.  (Although, if you have a pathological fear of rats, there is one scene with Lorraine on her hands and knees in a crawl space that may require a few moments’ diverted attention.)

One of the unsung pleasures of The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 – an element not found in any of the spin-offs – is the chemistry between actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. The affection and companionship of Ed and Lorraine comes across in the performances and, in addition to exhibiting a genuine emotional bond, the characters radiate competence.

If I was going through a possession, I’d want them on the case. The Devil Made Me Do It relies less on the connection between Wilson and Farmiga than on cheesy flashbacks (with younger actors – Mitchell Hoog and Megan Ashley Brown – playing the roles) to emphasize the depth of Ed and Lorraine’s love for one another. It’s a clumsy misstep.

Although both Wilson and Farmiga have returned to the series, there are significant behind-the-camera changes and these may have had something to do with the drop-off in quality. James Wan, the director of The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, stepped down in favor of his hand-picked successor, Michael Chaves (who made the 2019 spin-off, The Curse of La Llorona). While Chaves shows ability in developing a sinister tone, he is less sure when it comes to maintaining a white knuckle, edge-of-the-seat sensibility.

Writers Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes have also moved on. One can’t help but wonder whether these substitutions are a key component in moving The Devil Made Me Do It away from the high level of its forerunners and more into the realm of generic 21st century horror. Whatever the cause may be, the magic previously enjoyed by The Conjuring movies has failed to materialize for this journey into the supernatural.

  • A movie review by James Berardinelli

 

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Credits

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It movie poster

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

Rated R

112 minutes

Cast

Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren

Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren

Ruairi O’Connor as Arne Cheyne Johnson

Sarah Catherine Hook as Debbie Glatzel

Julian Hilliard as David Glatzel

John Noble as Father Kastner

Charlene Amoia as Judy Glatzel

Steve Coulter as Father Gordon

Director

  • Michael Chaves

Writer

  • David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Writer (story)

  • James Wan
  • David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Cinematographer

  • Michael Burgess

Editor

  • Peter Gvozdas
  • Christian Wagner

Composer

  • Joseph Bishara

 

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Plot

In 1981, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren document the exorcism of 8-year-old David Glatzel, attended by his family, his sister Debbie, her boyfriend Arne Johnson, and Father Gordon in Brookfield, Connecticut. During the exorcism, Arne invites the demon to enter his body instead of David’s. Ed witnesses the demon transport itself from David’s body to Arne’s while he suffers from a heart attack and is taken to a hospital in an unconscious state.

The following month, Ed wakes up at the hospital and reveals to Lorraine that he witnessed the demon enter Arne’s body. She sends the police to the Glatzel household, warning them that a tragedy will occur there. Arne and Debbie return to their apartment located above a kennel where Debbie works. After feeling unwell, Arne murders his landlord, Bruno Sauls, by stabbing him 22 times due to his demonic possession.

With the support of the Warrens, his case becomes the first American murder trial to claim demonic possession as a defense, resulting in the beginning of an investigation into David’s original possession. The Warrens later discover a satanic curse passed on through a witch’s totem and meet with Kastner, a former priest who previously dealt with the Disciples of the Ram cult. He tells them that an occultist had intentionally left the totem, resulting in the creation of a curse on the Glatzels, causing the possession of David.

The Warrens travel to Danvers, Massachusetts, to investigate the death of Katie Lincoln, who was also stabbed 22 times. Detectives had found a totem at the home of Katie’s friend Jessica, who is missing. Lorraine initiates a vision to recreate the murder and discovers that Jessica had stabbed Katie while possessed before jumping to her death off of a cliff, which allows detectives to recover her body.

The Warrens travel to the funeral home where her body rests, and Lorraine touches the corpse’s hand to help find the location of the occultist. Lorraine, in a vision, witnesses the occultist attempting to have Arne kill himself but stops her just in time. Lorraine is threatened by the occultist and she tells Ed that the connection works both ways.

The Warrens return to their house in Connecticut to investigate further. Drew reveals that he has found a book of Stregherian witchcraft which states that for the curse to be lifted, the altar used by the occultist must be destroyed. Ed is affected by the curse, a totem being discovered in a vase of flowers delivered to the house, but is stopped by Drew when attacking Lorraine.

When they realize Katie attended nearby Fairfield University, they begin to assume the occultist is operating in the area. Lorraine returns to Kastner for help, and he reveals that he had secretly raised a daughter, Isla, in violation of the requirement of clerical celibacy in the Catholic Church. As he researched the occult, Isla grew fascinated in it, later becoming the occultist. Kastner tells Lorraine that Isla’s altar must be in the tunnels underneath the house, leading her into them before Isla finds and kills him.

Ed soon arrives and finds his way into the tunnels through a locked drain hole with a sledgehammer. He is briefly bewitched by Isla and attempts to kill Lorraine, but she forces him to recall the time they first met, reminding him of their love. Ed regains his senses and destroys the altar, saving himself, Lorraine and Arne. Isla arrives at her broken altar, only to be killed by the demon she had summoned after failing to complete the curse.

Ed places the cup from the altar in the artifact room, along with the Valak painting and the Annabelle doll. Arne is convicted of manslaughter but ends up serving a sentence of only five years, marrying Debbie while in prison. Ed shows Lorraine a gazebo like the one in which they first kissed.

 

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Box office

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It grossed $65.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $140.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $206.4 million.

In the United States, the film was released alongside Spirit Untamed, and was projected to gross $15–20 million from 3,100 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $9.8 million on its first day, increasing estimates to $25–27 million. It ended up debuting to $24 million, the second-lowest of the Conjuring Universe but still marking the third-best opening of the pandemic and topped the box office.

The film fell 57% to $10.3 million in its sophomore weekend, finishing third, then $5.2 million in its third weekend.

 

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Critical Response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of 244 critic reviews for the film are positive, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “The Devil Made Me Do It represents a comedown for the core Conjuring films, although Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson keep the audience invested.”

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100 based on 39 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.[42] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale (down from the “A−” grade of the first two films), while PostTrak reported 78% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 58% saying they would definitely recommend it.

Carlos Aguilar of the TheWrap wrote: “The Devil Made Me Do It opens with a disturbing sequence, set in 1981, that stands as the scariest part of the supernatural saga to date. That’s not to say that the nearly two hours that ensue are devoid of tension and well-paced jump scares, but the sheer chaos and malevolence on display right out of the gate are unmatched elsewhere.”

In his review for Variety, Owen Gleiberman praised the performances of Wilson and Farmiga but wrote: “The new film lacks that kinetic haunted-house element. It’s the most somber and meditative and least aggressive of the Conjuring films.” From The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney said: “This one offers plenty of lurid fun and some genuine scares. But the grounding in dark spirituality that made the previous entries focused on the Warrens so compelling gets diluted, despite the reliably dignifying double-act of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.”

Lena Wilson of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating that “‘The Devil Made Me Do It‘ is an excellently spooky work of fiction. It would be even better if it privileged ghoulishness over gospel.” Hanna Flint of Empire wrote “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It hits some major horror notes, with Wilson and Farmiga providing much needed heart and soul, but the new Satanic worship elements causes the franchise to take a farcical turn.”

Joshua Rivera of Polygon said that “This setup makes this installment of The Conjuring feel like a supernatural detective film … It’s a pretty good idea, and a decent change of pace for the series. But The Devil Made Me Do It struggles to reach the highs of the previous movies under this new structure.”

Tom Jorgensen of IGN rated the film a 6 out of 10, concluding that “Though The Devil Made Me Do It is a smart recalibration for The Conjuring series, its successes have little to do with its strengths as a standalone horror movie” and that “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is greater than the sum of its parts and functions best in how it opens the series up to new kinds of stories to tell in the future.”

 

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Accolades

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The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021) Movie Info

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.

 

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