`The Conjuring` 3 review: best to remember, the devil is in the details

All hell breaks loose early and often in ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’. A creepy old Connecticut home shivers in the grip of demonic forces that shred the wallpaper (an improvement, honestly) and tear the body and soul of an 11-year-old boy, causing acrobatic offices so violently that they beat Linda Blair’s head turns like hot yoga. If ‘The Exorcist’ seems like an overly obvious reference point at the moment, it’s one that this film evokes, first when an old priest arrives on this foggy night and later when a heroic young man dares the devil to to abandon the poor boy and take him. instead. The devil gladly complies and vacates the body of the young David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) and grabs his older sister’s boyfriend, Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor). But Arne lives on, rather than throwing himself after his death, and now presents a demonic parasite that she does not take so sweet time to make known to him. Jumping scares abound, waving your eardrums and filling the screen with expert appearances and hallucinatory washes of red. By the time Arne is arrested for the brutal murder of his landlord (Ronnie Gene Blevins), the film has already set out his case, which has been summed up in the right way.

Return of the Enthusiasts

Proving it in court is a more difficult case, and it falls, of course, on Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), that god-fearing, ghostly duo who give these films their romantic pulse and spiritual feel. . In this latest film, directed by Michael Chaves from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, they try to prove that Arne is not guilty of demonic possession – a difficult task that will bring them into contact with all sorts of fellow human beings. . believers and professional skeptics. (The fine ensemble cast includes Keith Arthur Bolden, Ashley LeConte Campbell, Eugenie Bondurant and especially John Noble as a glorious foreign priest who has become a paranormal expert.) Like its excellent predecessors, ‘The Conjuring’ (2013) and ‘The Conjuring 2’ (2016), ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ was snatched from one of the Warrens’ case files, this one centered on a 1981 murder trial that they have successfully – and no one too carefully – become a cause of celebrities. Whether you view the Warrens as righteous spiritual warriors, cunning hucksters, or both, their self-promotional skills have never been in doubt, as the mere existence of these films amply shows. (Ed Warren passed away in 2006; Lorraine Warren, who served as a consultant in the series, passed away in 2019.)

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As a rule, the words ‘based on a true story’ should arouse the skepticism of every viewer; this is even more the case when a film is as supernatural in presenting supernatural events as it is. Not that you had to believe a second of the first two ‘Conjuring’ movies – both with a pulse-pounding intensity by James Wan (who is recognized as a producer here) – to find it very entertaining, especially since stories about possessions and ghosts based on a shivering suspension of unbelief to begin with. If the illusion is slower to grasp ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, it’s because of the heightened moral importance – the issue of a man’s guilt or innocence in the case of a monstrous crime – as well as the more real approach of the film. to shocks and fright. Chaves made his debut with ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ (2019), one of a number of episodes such as ‘The Nun’ and ‘Annabelle’ in the increasingly confusing ‘Conjuring’ franchise. (I think we are supposed to call it a universe, but some precepts, such as the devil himself, must be resisted.) Chaves is a solid craftsman with a weak point for easy jerk, but also ‘ a gift to fill the framework with strategically unnecessary pools of light and shadow; he can even make a room in daylight into something ominous and suggestive. He also orchestrates an unforgettable flashback of young David’s first encounter with evil, a scene that will make you thankful that waterbeds have made the path of the dodo.

Movie short finesse

What Chaves has not yet demonstrated so far is something that approaches the kinetic virtuosity of Wan’s filmmaking, his ability to make the camera skate up and down the hallways, and us alongside the characters in a labyrinthine amusement park of horrors. beach. To some extent, this is the right approach for this particular story, where the real antagonist is not a haunted house, but rather a curse of mysterious and extremely malicious descent. Admittedly, Ed and Lorraine have broken many curses over the years, in the process collecting a storeroom with creepy dolls and tchotchkes (as referenced in one of the film’s more cunning battle lines). But nothing they did prepared them completely for the extinction of this matter in satanic cult worship, blood sacrifices, and other forms of occult deviance, all of which work according to their own strange sinister rules. It is in the analysis of the rules that ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ ‘occasionally hits a sweet spot, if it is less consistent or surprising than its predecessors did. Narratively speaking, the most enjoyable aspect of these films is the way they function as paranormal detective stories, buttons intricate mysteries in which the struggle for the human soul also becomes a battle of mind. This is another reason why the Warrens – at least as played by Farmiga and Wilson, make the best of their retro-nerdy-sexy chemistry as always – are such an engaging detective duo: it’s Nick and Nora with fewer jokes and more holy water. It helps, of course, that the Warrens come off as dedicated (some might say connectable) do-goods and that you never catch them, say then, eagerly negotiating book and film presentations during the trial, as their real counterparts say did. This is not the only time that ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it’ has piled your sympathy in favor of Ed and Lorraine, never more striking than with sepia-tinted flashbacks to their original encounter – the beginning of a love story to make audiences swoon and devils tremble. Here, and not for the first or last time, the power of kitsch forces you.