By Deep Guha
The wait is finally over. The latest chapter in ‘The Conjuring Universe’, The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It, has been released. And the makers have taken the right decision by veering away from the established ‘haunted-house mould’ set by the franchise’s main series, i.e. The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 because it lends the movie a fresh and unique perspective which helps both the story and the characters, especially the ‘First Family of the franchise’ to grow and transform into something else.
The movie follows how Ed(Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren(Vera Farmiga) became involved in the ‘Arne Cheyenne Johnson Murder Trials’, also known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case. Which was the first known court case in the United States in which the defence sought to prove innocence based upon the defendant's claim of demonic possession and denial of personal responsibility for the crime. But the movie does not restrict itself to the courtroom happenings as the Warren’s soon find out that the family of eight-year-old David Glatzel(Julian Hilliard) was cursed and there’s a more sinister force at play.
When the premise of the movie was first released to the public, I immediately thought that it would walk in the line of films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose; but instead, it walks in the line of Constantine. From the very first scene, the movie swings into full-blown occult-action and scares, and here is where the strength of the film lies. It is different from what the franchise has offered until now.
In this movie, the Warren’s roles are expanded greatly . They are not just experts on demonology, but actively pursue leads, get embroiled in the conflict more directly. They act more as occult detectives in this film which works in the movie's favour.
But on the other hand, something that is visibly noticeable is that the movie deals with too many plot threads; at times the tone and pacing become visibly inconsistent, but in no way incoherent. It sometimes seems overstretched, but, Chaves, to his credit, has successfully laid down the foundations which hold the main story in place.
If one were to ask the question, ‘Is this film as scary as the previous two instalments?’ The answer would be no. A straight no. But in all fairness, it doesn’t try to be. It is at the core, a supernatural whodunnit. While there are certain scenes where the viewers might be jolted, the movie offers more than ‘intense jumpscares’ that the franchise is known for. Michael Chaves, who also directed the critically panned ‘The Curse of La Llorona’, has exceeded expectations with this film. And it will be interesting where the franchise heads next.
In terms of acting, it is Vera Farmiga who has stolen the show as Lorraine Warren. She has, perhaps, single-handedly re-structured the idea of a modern-day ‘Scream Queen’. Patrik Wilson has also has grown into the role of Ed Warren. The choice of casting Ruairi O'Connor as Arne Cheyenne Johnson is debatable at best. While he has successfully portrayed a man possessed, the nuances that are demanded of such a role are sometimes not visible in his performances. Sarah Catherine Hook’s performance also feels like a stock representation of the girls that we find in numerous other horror movies. John Noble and Eugenie Bondurant shine in their roles as Kastner and The Occultist, respectively. Bondurant convincingly brings a menacing and evil take to her character. Shannon Kook returns as Drew Thomas, the assistants of the Warrens.
Joseph Bishara also returns to provide the music for the movie.