The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It wastes no time getting started, as the opening scene reveals a wrecked, candlelit home that is filled with fervent prayers. It’s 1981, and eight-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) is lying on a table, held firm by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively), his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend. His exorcism has just been approved, and the priest is on the way. But there just isn’t time to get the boy to the church, as Ed tells the priest that he “can’t remember one quite like this.”
And I think that line perfectly sums up what The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It delivers in comparison to how the other Conjuring movies have played out. This is new territory, for several reasons. First, this isn’t really a movie about David at all. It’s about Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), the boyfriend of David’s sister, Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook). Within the first few minutes of the film, a sacrifice is made, and the demon has a new host. This sense of mobility is novel territory for a Conjuring film–which usually stays at one, or at most two locales. Here, we move from David’s home, to the Brookfield Kennel where Arne and Debbie live, to even out of state as more connections about this dangerous entity are made.
In addition to covering more terrain, there are two other important ways in which The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It distinguishes itself from its predecessors. While the police have made appearances in other movies, this is the first time that we actually see the Warrens go to court to convince the judge that, not only is demonic possession real, but that it can also cause someone to do something that they should not be held accountable for–like, murder. Typically, the Warrens work with a small crew, but here they open themselves up to the public in a new way. Similarly, although the Warrens are always in danger, this film draws more attention to just how much they suffered during this case. They are depicted in a more vulnerable light and, perhaps due to this, more emphasis is placed on the incredible strength of their relationship.
As weird as this is, the Conjuring films are my favorite romantic movies. Each time I watch Ed and Lorraine Warren interact with each other, I smile–whether or not a demon is present. It’s obvious how much they care for each other, and the flashback in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It to when they first met made me giddy. Sure, the lines might be cheesy (e.g. “My home is here with him”), but Lorraine delivers them with such confidence and sincerity. Their unwavering faith in each other and in God makes it impossible for the skeptics to dismiss them outright, and their deep desire to help those unfortunate people who move into the wrong house (more or less) is inspiring.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is familiar in its aesthetic (muted Americana) and thematic material, but it’s a significant departure from the other Conjuring films. It’s more than just the haunting of a single home. It involves multiple hauntings and locales, private and public involvement, and new dangers for the power couple. It signals growth, which is what one hopes for with a series, and I eagerly look forward to seeing what direction they take next.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
No good boys died.10.0/10
Waterbeds are evil.10.0/10
Sickening contortionist moves.10.0/10
Lorraine Warren: style icon.10.0/10
Ends on a hopeful note.10.0/10
- Director: Michael Chaves
- Writers: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, James Wan
- Stars: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Sterling Jerins, Drew Thomas, Julian Hilliard, Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook
- Producers: Richard Brener, Michael Clear, Will Greenfield, et al.
- Musician: Joseph Bishara
- Cinematographer: Michael Burgess
- Film Editors: Peter Gvozdas, Christian Wagner
- Casting Directors: Anne McCarthy, Kellie Roy
- Production Designer: Jennifer Spence
- Costume Designer: Leah Butler