The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
the conjuring | the conjuring: the devil made me do it | michael chaves | david leslie johnson-mcgoldrick | patrick wilson | vera farmiga | ruairi o'connor | possessed | possession | demon | curse | cult | sequel | mystery | thriller | united states | united kingdom
Film: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Director: Michael Chaves
Writer: David Leslie John-McGoldrick
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Ruairi O’Connor
This was a movie that I knew I would end up seeing once it got announced. I’ll be honest, when I saw the title, I wasn’t the biggest fan and this will be something that I get into later. This is also one that I heard some mixed things about, but I did pretty well with avoiding spoilers for it aside from a few minor things. To get into this sequel, the Warrens investigate a murder that may be linked to a demonic possession.
We are starting this movie back in 1981. Ed (Patrick Warren) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are helping out the Glatzel family. The son of David (Julian Hilliard) is possessed. Trying to help see him through are his sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook), her boyfriend Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) along with his mother Judy (Charlene Amoia) and father Carl (Paul Wilson). It appears an exorcism has been approved by the church so they’re waiting on Father Gordon (Steve Coulter) to arrive. We see that the demonic presence isn’t though. A dangerous exorcism takes place that almost kills Ed. Before he passes out from a heart attack, he sees Arne help David by allowing the demon in.
Ed is rushed to the hospital where Lorraine, Judy (Sterlin Jerins) and Father Gordon check on him. Life seems to go back to normal for the Glatzels. Not so much for Arne though. He is seeing things in the house and he is also not feeling well. This pushes him to almost getting hurt at work and killing his landlord, landing him in jail as he awaits trial.
The Warrens approach his lawyer, Meryl (Ashley LeConte Campbell) about his defense and she gives them the cold hard facts, it would be nearly impossible to prove that he was possessed when he committed murder. They invite her to dinner to change her mind and she does enter a plea that Arne killed this man due to demonic possession. In order to help his case, they will have to do something they’ve never done before; after the facts prove that he was possessed. Things are even more difficult where Arne is able to touch religious symbols and read from the bible while in jail.
Lorraine makes an interesting discovery under the Glatzels’ house that leads them toward the truth of what is going on. There was another similar case that could also give them more information. What they discover could be much more dangerous than anything they’ve dealt with before.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap for this movie. Where I want to start is this being based on a ‘true story’. I will admit I haven’t looked into this case. I do believe that the Warrens helped out the Glatzel family and that there really is a case file. I don’t believe that they did most of what happened into this movie. It is based on real people and recounting some real events, or at least their version. I don’t want to delve too much more into this or how the Warrens were in real life, but I wanted to at least point out this here to start.
Going from there, before seeing this movie I did see some images pointing out how much of this movie is borrowing from The Exorcist. We get an interesting variation on the legendary image that would become the poster within the first 5 minutes of the movie. I thought it was a good touch. Another comparison could be the fact that we get an exorcism that doesn’t go as planned with a character calling the demon into themselves. Now I do apologize if I’m spoiling the classic from the 1970’s, but this all happens within the first 10 minutes of this movie. I don’t think it hurts this movie as it is hard to not pay homage to such a ground-breaking film.
For the story here, we get an interesting premise. This feels a lot like The Exorcism of Emily Rose in that we’re trying to prove demonic possession in a court of law. This movie here doesn’t use the court room nearly as much so that doesn’t bog it down. I should point out though, I really like Emily Rose. What is really here is giving us the uphill battle that the Warrens have to climb in order to help Arne. It works in the movie’s favor doing this back in the 1980’s, where we are more in the Satanic Panic and could potentially sway a jury more than you could today in my opinion. We also know much more about mental illness than we did then too.
Now something you have to do with sequels is constantly raise the stakes. I like that is what we’re doing here. We looked at the Enfield Poltergeist in the previous movie and also used The Nun as the major villains there. In order to go bigger, I like that we’re dealing with a demon that someone summoned with the occult. There is a much bigger plot to explain everything, but that is what it boils down to. I was on board with the concept. Some thing else I want to include here is that I like we limit Ed in this movie due to his heart attack. It isn’t just a plot device to allow the haunting to progress, it is a nagging thing.
The last part of the story that I will bring up is something else I saw people griping about. There isn’t necessarily stakes for Ed and Lorraine. There is a sequence in the trailer, which in part is why I don’t watch trailers. This movie does have the haunting shift over to them as it is trying to stop them during their investigation. My take for this though is that it is the family’s they are helping are the ones in danger. The Warrens need to save them before it is too late. I’m fine that it does shift to them, even when they aren’t with the family, but I never feel they’re truly in peril. This is an issue with a series like this with ‘iconic’ characters.
Speaking of which, I think I’ll go to the acting next. I like Wilson and Farmiga in these roles. I feel like they’ve taken them over. I know Ed and Lorraine were real, but these are the cinematic version that are much different from the actual people. I don’t think they’re performance is great here, but I feel they a legit married couple that likes to help people. I thought that O’Connor was solid as Arne. There is something about him where he’s timid so I like where his character ends up. Hook is cute and I thought she was good as Arne’s love interest who is sticking by him. Hilliard is fine as the boy. He does some good stuff during the possession scene and there after. John Noble is really creepy from the moment we meet him as Kastner. This could also be said about Eugenie Bondurant in her role. Aside from that, I thought the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
I think next I’ll go to the effects. There is quite a bit of CGI here, being that this is a big budget haunting and possession movie. What I will say is that it actually worked for me. They do some creepy things that pop up behind characters and from shadows, which I will also credit the cinematography. There was some creepy stuff with body contortion that works. There are also some decent practical effects mixed in I’m sure. Overall I’d say that it worked for me.
Then finally I want to briefly talk about the sound design. I think it does some really good stuff with demonic whispering and roaring. That stuff fits and is creepy. I think that the soundtrack, especially the use of the Blondie song was good. My only issue comes from the stingers with the jump-scares. I’m not going to rant, it just feels cheap. I will say, there was one that startled me a bit so I will give credit to that.
So then in conclusion here, I think that this is an enjoyable movie. Do I think it is ground breaking? No I do not. This is an entertaining film that I think is pretty well done. Being based on a true story is a bit laughable to me. I do think we have the stakes raised from the previous movie. We have an interesting story we’re following and the acting works to bring the characters to life. I think that the effects were good, the cinematography works and I’m mostly positive on the sound design. This movie is just lacking a bit for me with where things go. If you like The Conjuring universe, then definitely watch this one to continue the story. There are better and scarier haunting/possession films out there.
My Rating: 7 out of 10