The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opened in theaters and began streaming on HBO Max on June 4. The third installment in The Conjuring franchise remained true to its predecessors, while also veering in its own direction.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It managed to beat out A Quiet Place Part II’s box office receipts, although AQP had a stronger opening weekend (A Quiet Place Part II opened on May 28 with a $48 million weekend, and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It had a $12 million opening).
Since A Quiet Place II was not released simultaneously to a streaming platform, it’s not really a fair comparison, but we are still navigating the post-COVID waters, so it’s what we have to work with.
Either way, the fact that A Quiet Place II opened as the number one film last week, and The Devil Made Me Do It did the same thing a few days ago means that horror rules! We fans of the genre know that, of course, but it seems like the rest of the country is catching on.
How does The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It differs from the first two The Conjuring films?
Like the first two movies, The Devil Made Me Do It is based on the case files of real-life paranormal investigators/demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. However, this time around, the Warrens are not investigating a haunted house claim. Fans of the franchise will remember that The Conjuring told the story of the Perron family, who moved into a haunted house, and The Conjuring 2 introduced us to the Enfield haunting in the UK.
Instead, The Devil Made Me Do It reimagines the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who stabbed his landlord to death, then pled not guilty due to demonic possession. According to Johnson and other witnesses, he attended the exorcism of 11-year-old David Glatzel, and the demon lept from David’s body into Johnson’s.
This was also the first The Conjuring film to not be directed by James Wan. While Wan still contributed to the story, he handed over the directing reins to Michael Chaves, who directed The Curse of La Llorona, another film in The Conjuring Universe.
So, does this slightly tweaked formula work? This is only my opinion of course, but it mostly worked for me. At the heart of the first two films was the relationship between Ed and Lorraine Warren, and actors Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga once again convey that relationship beautifully.
They treat one another with a tenderness that is palpable, even when they are teasing each other or disagreeing about something, and the viewer does not doubt for one moment that either of them would give their life for the other. Of course, that nearly happens in all three films at one time or another, and in The Devil Made Me Do It, Ed saves Lorraine when she nearly goes over the edge of a cliff (not a spoiler, since that moment is immortalized in the trailer). Later, Lorraine saves herself and Ed under different circumstances.
The strong relationship factor of The Conjuring franchise does not end with the Warrens, however. In The Conjuring, the Perron family was extremely likable, and my heart went out to single mom Peggy and her kids in The Conjuring 2.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It features Arne Johnson, his girlfriend Debbie, and her younger brother David. Again, all are likeable and sympathetic. Ruairi O’Connor (The Postcard Killings) is great as Arnie, Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland, NOS4A2) is sympathetic and nurturing and of course, young Julian Hilliard (The Haunting of Hill House, Color Out of Space) is not only adorable as David, he is also probably the best kid actor currently working in films.
Hilliard gets to put on his scared/evil face several times, particularly in the opening exorcism scene. And let me tell you, that scene is harrowing! The use of a 12-year-old contortionist to stand in for Hilliard during the exorcism was a great call. I am always more impressed with practical effects than with CGI.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It packs on the jump scares and frightening imagery
The scare factor is definitely still present three films in. The waterbed scene (also featured in the trailer) is fantastic, and the closing section of the movie is gripping.
It felt to me as if the storyline kind of went a little sideways at times, though, and it definitely added some way out there material to the “real” story it is based on. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed The Devil Made Me Do It. It made me jump multiple times, and I am 100% on board for more sequels.
HBO Max subscribers can currently stream The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, or, better yet, watch it on a glorious big screen now that 75% of the theaters in America have re-opened. That’s right, kids, 25% of the theaters in the US are still closed, so do your part and support the ones that are now open and still struggling.
Are you a fan of The Conjuring films? What did you think of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it? Tell us all about it in the comments section.