On paper, the Conjuring movies are so out of date in terms of horror that they sound almost boring. On the less generous read, they returned to the same “truly disturbing-based” material that ‘The Amityville Horror’ and its many imitators gave us. But looking at them, they are a good example of why originality is not as important as execution.
The director of the first two films, James Wan, was primarily responsible for the iconic appearance of the franchise. He brought a decades-long horror career and a flair for understated imagery to serial representations of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). His talent has created a horror series, which can feel richer than most people even in the case of constantly digging for derivative products. Unfortunately, the latest issue of “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” lacks both the direction and the richness that makes the first two horror films so interesting.
Where is the story derived from?
This new film is directed by Michael Chavez (who has directed his feature film debut “The Curse of La Lorona”) and is adapted from the real trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a notorious murder case. Johnson notoriously claimed that “The Devil Made Me Do It” as his defense. This is the first time that demon possession has been used as a legal argument for the innocence of the defendant. (It doesn’t hold.) Like other ghostly films, according to Warren’s case story, the devil asked me to do it. It assumes that Johnson’s property is real and builds a horror story around this assumption.
Plotline of the movie
The devil asked me to make it different from its predecessors because it is not a haunted house movie. This is more like a creepy mystery. Events in real life are not the real point- the background story of the Johnson case is omitted for the first half hour. In the prologue, Johnson was present while exorcising his younger brother, and as a result, a terrible mistake was made and Johnson was possessed. Soon after, he murdered his landlord and was charged and imprisoned for the crime. At that time, the Warren family launched an investigation and proved to the court that Johnson was a victim of demon possession.
This scenario makes this part of “The Conjuring” feel like a supernatural detective movie, because the Warrens have linked Johnson’s property to other murders in the area and began to suspect someone was inviting their presence. of demons and inciting violent crime. This is a pretty good idea and a nice change in pace for the series. But under this new structure, “The Devil Made Me Do It” can hardly reach the climax of the previous films.
Wilson and Farmiga continue to bring an unusual human touch which in the hands of smaller people, can make the movie “The Conjuring” seem like a cynical attempt to cash in on a successful horror franchise, rather than an honest attempt for an interesting series of films about paranormal investigators.
Maybe it’s because the actors don’t look like traditional horror leads, they are middle-aged heroes who prefer the young, and because of the way the movie precedes the true story angle, they will definitely survive. But the compassionate and sensitive performances of Wilson and Farmiga helped the audience care for the Warren family and, in turn, the victims of whatever case they are investigating.
Understanding where it went wrong
What ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ did was to not make the most of that empathy. After a promising opening, the director bypassed the boundary between horror stories and supernatural crime stories without effectively merging the two. The first visual brushstrokes of the genius, such as the clever shots of the shower curtain rod covering the devil’s claws, or the ghosts in the water bed, were later abandoned and turned into dark backgrounds with few early colors to give them life.
Despite their best efforts, Farmiga and Wilson did not get a script that highlighted the connection and commitment between the Warrens, but tried to promote it because of their performance. The first two movies link the supernatural case to the arc of his personal role (Ed Warren lacks confidence in “Conjuring”, his marital status in “Conjuring 2”), whereas these two aspects are only loose in “Devil Made me do it.”
The different turns out to be a flagship in this “Conjuring” movie, and strangely, it feels like one of many derivative products of the series. In less than two hours, “Devil Made Me Do It”, split into too many directions, unable to treat any of them fairly: seductive possession, the mystery of sending Warrens’ serial killer style, and the relationship between the couple, the mediocre verbal service, none of them. It falls on the power like that of the final exorcism scene in The Conjuring, or tracks as effectively as in The Conjuring 2’s Crooked Man, which will be the focus of the next spin-off movie.
This does not mean that ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is bad, it is just inevitable. This is just a movie that does not fit its pedigree. Although The Conjuring has become a large franchise (it has five other spin-offs, including the popular Annabel trilogy), it has long managed to avoid feeling like that, thanks to its central WanWilson Farmiga theme. In the end, “The Devil Made Me Do It” attempted to use a new director to change the franchise and failed miserably.