The eighth film in the Conjuring verse, starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, is back with its dosage to fulfill the desires of the horror-fanatics by giving us a terrifying exploration and insight into the world of exorcism and people imbued with demonic powers. In this one, two lead paranormal investigators find themselves tangled against a demonic foe who shall stop at nothing to fulfill his objectives and desires.
The story is based on Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a real-life case where the accused pleaded that the demonic side had overrun him and ‘made him’ commit a murder. The trailers for the movie and reveals show an interview with his wife who claims that it was first her brother to get possessed, only later for her husband to become possessed as well. Regardless of how true these stories are or the facts, what it does provide for is a terrifying ambiance for the setup in this latest Conjuring movie. The presence of a strong story like this might be a relief for the franchise’s fans as it can be unpredictable of what to expect from a Conjuring movie. The first movie along with the earliest Anabelle relied on setting up the ambiance and terrorizing the audience through sheer imaginative allusions, while the later ones have relied upon more lazy jump-scares or loud frightening sounds repeatedly to the point where it loses its appeal and just appears to be lazy. Let’s see how this one has fared against its previous installments.
Set in 1981, the movie begins with a classic plot set-up tactic where two paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren are doing their usual routine exorcism, they are met with an unpredictable surprise in the form of a Demon out to claim a soul. The soul in question here is of David’s, a 12-year-old boy (Played by Julian Hilliard). The Demon is an unstoppable and the definition of absolute evil that can do even the unimaginable, is challenged by a young man named Arne (played by Ruairi O’Connor) to leave David’s soul and claim his instead, leading to things getting out of control. At this point, the demonologist couple not only have to save Arne from having his soul harvested by the demon, but must save themselves as well, as they feel they’re finally up against something over which they have no power or say or any methodology to tackle it.
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are back in their roles for this installment as well, delivering a stellar performance and not letting down on expectations. Wilson playing Ed does his job well in portraying a character that is restrained and does not let emotions get too much in the way when in a life-or-death situation. While this might be familiar to the fans out there, what’s surprising is the character development of Farmiga’s Lorraine. Unlike Ed, where restraint under such brutal pressure can feel unrealistic to some, Lorraine’s strengths and vulnerabilities along with her emotional quips are on full display during the movie which provides an extra layer of relatability for most of the viewers. Ed and Lorraine’s character definitely steal the show on this one, even though the ‘possessed’ is the ultimate real deal.
The franchise has taken a bold step to delve into the landmark case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson and infuse horror with a crime. Yes, the first Conjuring had better frightening atmospheric set-ups for the layup and plot reveals, and while it also had more terrifying scenes in general, Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It has many unpredictable plot twists that one might not expect, proving to be a head-scratcher on the first playthrough of the movie. Also, in today’s world, gone are the days of people being deathly afraid of paranormal activities due to the advent of the internet and the overdone nature of all the cliches of Hollywood horror movies. The jump-scare tactic is pretty cheap but often the only one nowadays to evoke out a response other than the script just being too damn good for the viewer to feel genuinely terrified. This one does not match the caliber of setting up the ambiance in a way the first Conjuring movie did, but it sure does provide for a thrilling horror experience which is exactly what one is looking for in a movie like this.
Overall, this might be up there with the best Conjuring out there due to its new fruitful step of infusing horror with the crime while keeping the Conjuring elements in check to keep the fanbase happy. If this is the future for the series, then it might not be a bad thing as sometimes changes are necessary to evolve out of the old tried and tested run-down-the-mill list of Hollywood cliches in a horror movie to fill the gaps and void of a non-existent storyline or narrative, which Conjuring avoids well this time.