It’s here! The eighth installment of The Conjuring franchise has finally hit cinemas with its eerie take on true crime. Reuniting us with Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on the real life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first American murder defendant to claim demonic possession as a motive.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.
Directed by: Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona)
Produced by: James Wan (Aquaman, The Conjuring 2, The Nun) and Peter Safran (Annabelle Comes Home, The Conjuring 2)
Starring: Ruairi O’Connor (Starz’ The Spanish Princess), Sarah Catherine Hook (Hulu’s Monsterland) and Julian Hilliard (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels and The Haunting of Hill House).
A slow burn, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It strays from the format we’ve come to know and is driven by a few jump scares and a character driven story. Farmiga and Wilson shine as Ed and Lorraine Warren and their performances in this are nothing short of amazing. I loved that the film focused more on them than anything else and even though there was a wider story unfolding around them, we still spent the majority of the film leaning into those emotional connections rather than those darker horror elements. It was a great turn that I really loved and getting to learn more about the Warrens personal history helped ground them as humans and not just these paranormal investigators.
Compared to the earlier films, I was expecting that same constant anxiety ridden fear I usually have and while I definitely experienced a few jump scares, some moments were too obvious so that ‘edge of your seat’ thrill ride I was anticipating didn’t really come. Don’t get me wrong, there were still times where I had to block my ears or watch through my fingers, but because the film is so clearly bound by its characters and a strong storyline, the horror seems to take a backseat.
Although the film is based on a true story, that development between Ed and Lorraine means we see more of them working as a unit than we do unraveling Arne’s storyline and what happened in the trial. I actually didn’t mind this because 1) I love the Warrens and 2) we get to engage more with the antagonist via the possession so there is less to develop in this area. Speaking of possession, I loved the darker tone of this story and found the history of witchcraft and curses to be both fascinating and creepy. Bonnie Aarons who stars as our resident witch played her role perfectly and I got chills every time she came on screen. Also, shout out to the makeup and costume department for making her chilling performance even scarier.
I can’t leave without saying that as always, the prop design for this film is incredible and really sets the scene. I noticed myself a few times just looking in the background of scenes rather than focusing on the story as there is always something else to look at. This is perfect for those who aren’t the biggest fans of horror because you can follow the story without having to look directly at the action. Adding to the atmosphere is the silence. There are a few moments where the sound cuts out and you can feel your heart pumping because you didn’t know what was around the corner.
While this film is a slightly different take on the Conjuring universe, it isn’t one I’d want to miss. Getting to know the Warrens more was an absolute delight and I quickly became invested in unravelling this eerie mystery. Loved the character work, the storyline, the set design, and every little detail that went into making this both an emotional and spooky watching experience.
Catch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – only in cinemas NOW.
Written by Sophia Ivory
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