In The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — the third Conjuring movie, and the seventh in an ongoing horror franchise — we’re back with the Warrens. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren, real-life paranormal investigators, and this time they’re looking into the case of “possessed” eight-year-old boy David Glatzel.
Part of the appeal of the Conjuring films is their claim that they’re based on “true stories,” adding an element of potential plausibility to otherwise unbelievable tales. While the movies themselves often take off on their own tangents, it definitely helps the franchise’s popularity to have the base, as shaky as it may be, set in reality.
The Warrens were present for the exorcism of Glatzel, which took place on July 18, 1981 at the family’s home, replete with a priest. Young David’s teenage sister and her boyfriend, Arne Johnson, were also there for the ritual. As it was taking place, or so the story goes, Johnson told the “demon” inside of David to take him instead, and that’s precisely what happens. The demon leaves the boy and inhabits Johnson, leading to a much more dangerous outcome. (No more spoilers from here on out!)
It’s a teen horror rather than a kid horror, then?
Kinda. It’s almost like there are two, sometimes three movies going on at the same time, which might explain its slightly too long running time (just shy of two hours). One focus is on Johnson and his adapting to the possession, one is about the Warrens trying to fix the problem and the other dives deep into the demon and the hows, whys and whens. Actually, maybe it’s four, as we also discover some of the Warrens’ history and how they first met and fell in love. Strangely, this horror movie about demon possession has a lot to say about love.
The Devil Made Me Do It starts off with a few scenes reminiscent of The Exorcist, including all the disgustingness you remember: a contorting body, a deep demon voice, frothing at the mouth. We spend enough time with David to be scared before it moves on to Johnson. In a larger, stronger body, the demon is more powerful, and the chaos escalates.
How scary is it?
Ah, the most important horror question. For people familiar with the franchise, I’d say it’s on par with its predecessors. For those who’ve never seen a Conjuring movie, this is PG-level horror. Enough to make you jolt in your seat, but not enough to make you cry/puke. This third instalment in particular has a ton of jump scares, several of which caught me off-guard. There are long periods of absolute silence and the camera pans to darkness quite often, ensuring that the thing jumping out at you is simultaneously a shock and scary.
The story itself, even though it’s based on actual events, is pretty weak and almost laughable at times. But we’re not really here for the story, are we? At least there are enough twists and turns to keep you surprised. You also may never look at a certain type of household furniture the same ever again: be warned!
Anything special for Conjuring fans?
Aside from a number of Easter eggs distributed throughout the film — not to mention some clever cinematography and tongue-in-cheek shots — there are a few nods to Conjuring fans. Terrifying doll Annabelle is mentioned at one point (a treat for fans of the franchise), and the ending follows suit with the two preceding Conjuring movies.
Stick around for the credits, as the movie broadcasts an allegedly real live recording of the David Glatzel exorcism, taped by the Warrens. Chilling, if true.
So what’s the bottom line?
Filled to the brim with dark imagery and all the horror tropes you could want, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is your typical summer horror fare. Fans should be satisfied and newbies should be entertained, despite its runtime. The live recording at the end provides the scary cherry on your sundae and leaves you just unsettled enough as you head off to bed.
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is in theatres (where open), IMAX and available to rent at home nationwide on June 4, 2021. Please check local listings for full details.