I’m a huge fan of James Wan. The man has true horror vision, and his two recent franchises Insidious and The Conjuring have completely riveted me. I was genuinely terrified by the first Insidious when it came out, and The Conjuring 2 after that. When I heard The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (abbreviated as TC:TDMMDI (abbreviated as TC:3)) was coming out, I was honestly very, very excited. Unfortunately, as with the Insidious franchise, this series has as well lost steam.
Horror, excluding slashers, is one of my favorites genres for two reasons. The first is that it’s the only genre that consistently invokes the deepest emotion from me. I can chuckle at a comedy, I get excited with superhero movies, and romances are consistently misfires. But horror? Done competently, it gets me. And I don’t think that this experience is exclusive to me. Horror films are often movies that my friends least want go out to watch together. They’d rather watch Vin ‘Mi Familia’ Diesel do some dumb shit with cars and women out of his league that come see The Quiet Place. Scary movies hit.
The second reason is that horror films are generally easier to make and don’t need a huge budget, i.e., they’re usually grounded in realism, with a poignant dash of something out of place. The simplicity of horror movies is how they draw such deep emotion. There’s reality, human emotion, pain and fear. Not the fear of the ghost under your bed, but fear of something that could hurt you- you. You can’t stop it, you can’t fight it, you can’t prevent it. And if it could happen to you, then this supernatural presence can haunt you, too.
The Wans and the Warrens
This is what’s so powerful about Wan’s recent supernatural franchises. The families have real trauma that can and does occur to real families. The Conjuring universe has a unique edge with the Warrens. They’re like the Tony Stark of the horror cinematic universe. That being said, they’re also the weakest part of The Conjuring franchise. Unfortunately, they’re the focus of this film, and the film suffers because of it.
The Warrens have the charismatic pull of a couple that would break your heart if they were split. However, this fear of having the sweetheart couple be pulled apart really ran its course in the previous movie. That’s not to say that Wan didn’t try to make us feel sympathy for them. He really pulled out all the stops with the rain and the teenage romance and the kissing in a gazebo and showing us how they first fell in love. Unfortunately, there just isn’t left in the audience to care. We know they’ll be fine. In The Conjuring 2, Lorraine Warren literally had visions of Ed dying, and he was fine at the end despite being effectively blinded. It just won’t work this time.
The Devil Took the Day Off
The scares and frights were fine, but for some reason, they too felt flat. The previous movies featured the Nun, who was a truly terrifying conjuring, but this one has a middle aged mormon lady, some jump scares, and a slimy fat man as its fear factor. The idea of witchcraft and totems and devilry is an interesting take on the demonic possession idea that’s been present in Wan’s other films. I wanted it to work. I wanted to like it because the idea was innovative. I think that the efforts put into making the movie fresh and scary, deserve recognition. It just doesn’t work.
I’m still going to watch the next installment in Wan’s franchises, and I do want to see some meaningful change and growth in either the individual Warrens or the Warrens as a couple. I’m invested and I care about them. 4/10. Also, tell me that Vera Farmiga and Kristen Wiig aren’t essentially identical.