September 17 - 19, 2021

Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

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Rendez-View The Conjuring 3

Written By: Marcus Munoz

Through divine intervention, we are once again graced with the arrival of another (if not the final) installment in the Conjuring universe. The Devil Made Me Do It takes place in 1981 during the highly publicized and controversial murder trial of Arne Johnson. It’s up to Ed and Lorraine Warren to uncover the horrific truth behind one of America’s most eerie and haunting cases.

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Confused

If you’re a big fan of horror and have been keeping up with the Conjuring universe (not the Kardashian’s), this movie is for you. The Conjuring 3 is the finale to a near decade long trilogy and its multiple spinoffs. What it lacks in traditional jump scares, it certainly makes up for in the captivating performances by Patrick Wilson (Ed) and Via Farmiga (Lorraine). Rather than a conventional possession, The Devil Made Me Do It introduces the idea of witches and curses as a foil to an otherwise muddled storyline, all the while attempting to tell the true story of Arne Johnson, his alleged demonic possession, and the controversial trial to follow.  

As one of my favorite franchises in recent memory, I wasn’t expecting for the final Conjuring movie to head in this direction – though not disappointed, the finale left much to be desired.  

The Infamous Trial

Unlike various spinoffs such as The Nun, Anabelle and La Llorona – The Conjuring 3 focuses cults and, by relation, witches, spells, curses, yadda yadda. I don’t particularly mind this approach as it plays with other themes that relate to different kinds of supernatural occurrences. However, with the inclusion of such a monumental case like Arne Johnson’s, it unintentionally took focus away from how groundbreaking that trial was. Never before had the American court system been faced with a defense that argued “The devil made me do it”. This case was heavily based on empirical evidence from firsthand onlookers and the Warren’s themselves. This part can be a bit confusing, so if you’re not up to speed, let’s breakdown how everything allegedly happened IRL:  

In 1981 Brookfield Connecticut, Arne Johnson was arrested, incarcerated, and charged with murder of his landlord. A few days prior to these events, Arne was present during the exorcism of his partners younger brother, 11-year-old David. According to the Warrens, David started experiencing supernatural events upon moving into their new home. David claims he saw a man in the one of the rooms that had a waterbed – this is important in the first act of the film. Overtime David would see this figure more often, with each time the “man” becoming progressively more grotesque, and more beast-like. This “entity” as the Warrens refer to as, was, in their profession, considered to be a demonic presence. Further evidence showed physical markings both on David and in and around the house (claw marks). This eventually led to the family contacting Ed and Lorraine, along with local ministers to conduct an exorcism.  

As an added note: all exorcisms must be approved by the Vatican before being performed– which means the Warrens were quite confident in their findings. This was also used as evidence during Arne’s trial, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet... 

The Court Entertaining Demonology

The first act of the film is heavy and might be one of the best since it outlines the intensity of the exorcism that unfolded (though not entirely accurate). It is during this time, Arne calls out to this demonic presence, and asks that it “take him instead” - demanding that it enter Arne, instead of young David. In an interview conducted with the real Ed and Lorraine Warren back in the 90’s, they mentioned that in the house, there were over 40 demons present, fighting for David’s soul – they make no mention of this in the movie, which for your sake is probably for the best. Watching that interview really freaked me out. Evidently, both in the movie and allegedly in real life, Arne was then possessed by the demon afflicting David, which led to the eventual murder we talked about earlier.  

This case is not exactly clear and didn’t come to a conclusion where the court recognized the presence of the devil – but it does put into perspective the kind of evidence the court is willing to entertain, and how the media can contribute to perpetuating a potentially fabricated narrative.  

Standouts


Mega Power Couple
Mega Power Couple

Like I said, it’s really the performances from Via Farmiga (Godzilla: KOTM) and Patrick Wilson (Aquaman) that kept this movie going. Their on-screen chemistry is electric, and after 7+ years working together on this franchise, you can tell their acting ability in this genre has clearly intensified. There is so much raw passion and conviction in everything they do that even the most unrealistic and confusing scenes turn out to be so captivating. We pay credit to Wilson’s ability to scream-cry at Mach 9 and Farmiga's effortless talent at interacting with CGI demons as if they were right there with her. Warner Bros., please cast these two in another franchise ASAP – I'm not done seeing them on-screen together.  

The Morgue
The Morgue

Okay, this scene was intense. Dare I say, the best sequence in the movie? First off, it featured Farmiga and Wilson so of course it's already at an 8, but what really topped it off was the buildup to the jump scare. I’m not adverse to the typical jump scare like some of you critics out there, but this GOT ME GOOD. I was expecting the corpse Lorraine was interacting with to jump out and attack, but it was one of the other corpses in the room that did it instead. The way they ominously stand in the background and charge, and Ed is just...well, I had a pillow over my eyes (slightly). At this point we find out the witch can see Lorraine and then the story becomes a little disorderly, but THIS SCENE – I cherish it.  

Farewell to the Conjuring

As previously stated, this was not what I expected to get as a finale to the franchise. It left me a tad underwhelmed, but hungry for more. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great moments during the film, and of course the cast did wonders – but the magic that James Won brought to the first two films wasn’t translated well here. I believe this film missed plenty of opportunities in giving fans a unique experience in storytelling by integrating the fact-based logic often seen in the court system vs. the idea of demonology and spirits through the missing court proceeding. Despite this, it’s clear to see the Horror Division in Warner Bros. is thriving and creating some great work. Here’s hoping the team introduces another banger in this genre so I don’t always have to watch remake after remake of Michael Myers slashing 20 different iterations of Lori Strode.