The Devil Made Me Review It: The Conjuring 3 (2021) - Reviewed

photos courtesy WB

What started with a clap in 2013 dies with a whimper in 2021. 

The embellished (if not totally fictionalized) tales of the demonologist Warrens are back for another go round with a presence hell bent on terrorizing a young man and his fiance's family. 

When a dark presence makes itself known and inhabits the body of Arne Johnson, a horrifying murder takes place which sets off a chain of malevolent events that reveals another fresh evil in this ever evolving catalog of rogue demons. As this supernatural being takes hold of a human life, a mystery unravels and Vera Farmiga looks more concerned than ever.  

Due to the pandemic, the release date of The Conjuring 3 was pushed back as the film was toiled with prior to its cinematic release. Finally premiering in theaters this weekend, the third chapter in the ever running dramatized account of Ed and Lorraine Warren battling supernatural forces is one that should have been left on the shelf. It never reaches the horrific highs of their previous efforts and is symbolic of a movie system struggling to come up with any original content. This is another example of a series burning out due to a studio's consistent need to squeeze every last ounce out of any successful intellectual property. 

"I need to see a chiropractor, badly. This hurts."

The Conjuring and its sequel both offered something special that captured the moody aesthetic of '70s devilish horror in all its glory. That's not the case with the newest chapter in the series. With a lackluster plot and absolutely terrible writing, The Devil Made Me Do It lowers the bar, even seeming to insult the integrity or legacy of the previous two films. Without a great script to latch on to, the talents of both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are ultimately wasted against a story that plays more like a lost episode of some cable crime show instead of The Conjuring. Considering this is the eighth installment in this self contained horror universe, things seem to be losing their sheen, if not fully abandoning a mythology that started off so strong.  

It honestly feels like we've reached the saturation point with this franchise. After numerous spin-offs that include the Annabelle movies and The Nun, these are starting to seem like old hat. There's nothing new to say and the Warrens (as portrayed on film) have become a near caricature of themselves. The previous chapters had movement to them. The characters felt real and put forth some element of dynamism on screen. With The Conjuring 3, everything including all the actors just seems bored to death with the material. 

Director Michael Chaves doesn't seem to have the creative chops to muster up a jump scare much less direct a movie in one of the most successful horror franchises of the last decade. Where James Wan had the attention to detail to create sympathetic characters and a perfected visual style, Chaves just flounders in amateurish mediocrity. 

There is a good movie in here somewhere. The cast wants to do well. Wilson and Farmiga attempt to take charge of the material. You can feel it right under the surface. Sadly for them and all involved, the people in charge didn't know how to escape the third chapter curse. The onscreen persona of The Warrens is deeply rooted in modern pop culture iconography. If there's a fourth film, James Wan needs to take his baby back.