Demon hunter couple Ed and Lorraine Warren get it in their latest haunt CONJURING 3: THE STRAIGHT OF THE DEVIL to do with a young man who unexpectedly becomes the vessel of a natural figure. The ingredients are similar to those of the first two parts. Unfortunately, the end result is only limited. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It (USA/UK 2021)
It is a harrowing story in which the demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) become involved in the early 1980s. During an exorcism on eight-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard), the young man Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) offers himself as a vessel to the demon in the intoxication of the expulsion. The creature, whatever it may be, actually lets go of David and now possesses Arne, who in the process kills a neighbor in a bloodlust. He is then arrested and awaits his prison sentence behind bars. But Ed and Lorraine Warren suspect that the demon must be behind the disturbing act. The couple suddenly decides to do everything they can to prove the existence of the supernatural in court. But time is of the essence, because the creature is still in Arne’s body and is unpredictable…
The horror film universe surrounding the real-life demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, which began in 2013 with the haunted house shocker “The Conjuring,” has grown to an impressive eight films eight years later. In addition to the original “Conjuring” films, there are already spin-offs based on numerous artifacts and creatures that the Warrens have (supposedly) encountered over the course of their careers, of which the three “Annabelle” films are still the strongest at the box office performance. This also applies to the quality of craftsmanship. In particular, “The Nun”, about a horror nun who was already mentioned in “Conjuring 2”, did not show any of the strengths with which director James Wan once gave haunted house cinema new life. The horror genius, who launched the “Saw” franchise in addition to the “Conjuring” years before, has now fully arrived in the Hollywood business and, after directing DC’s “Aquaman”, is already working on its sequel and is currently responsible for two TV series . It’s hard to blame him for running out of time to direct “The Conjuring 3: The Devil’s Spell.” But perhaps it was also the first indication that he was and is not really convinced by the content of the film. Ultimately, he was so impressed by the idea of a “Conjuring” sequel that he promptly wrote the script himself. Here, however, he only appears as a producer, but in advance he spoke out personally in favor of his director colleague Michael Chaves, who has already contributed a film to the universe with “Llorona’s Curse”.
Greetings from “The Exorcist”: “Conjuring 3” is full of visual cross-references to classics in horror film history.
As an extremely generically told and staged jump scare party, “Llorona’s Curse” suffered primarily from its subpar script and its predictable shock-relaxation-shock sequence. Nevertheless, it was already apparent in some places that Michael Chaves also had a lot of potential. Namely, whenever he broke out of this conventional horror film scheme in terms of staging and, together with his cameraman Michael Burgess, tried a style that was almost reminiscent of melting watercolors for some scenes. We’re thinking in particular of the scene at the pool… For “Conjuring 3: Under the Spell of the Devil”, whose “True Events” roots this time include not just audio recordings, but even court documents, Chaves sticks structurally to what is have already presented the first two films. James Wan has always used the prologue to briefly outline another case involving the Warrens; In the first film the “Annabelle” story, which was later continued solo, and in the second he brought back memories of the “Amityville Horror” murders. And so part three begins the way many other horror films end: with an exorcism. In this case, however, this is the (first) start of the actual plot. The expulsion is successful, but only because the demon now sets its sights on a young man named Arne instead of the originally possessed little boy. The genre-tested screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick takes a good half an hour (“Orphan”) From now on, it’s time to savor Arne’s existence as a demon vessel and establish a creeping horror like James Wan perfected at the beginning of the series. An omnipresent feeling of unease spreads, which at this point is completely devoid of any targeted shocking moments and instead focuses entirely on small, barely perceptible barbs and scary situations in this American hinterland idyll where this part of the “Conjuring 3” plot takes place .
“An omnipresent feeling of unease is spreading, which at this point does not have any targeted moments of shock, but relies entirely on small, barely perceptible barbs and scary situations in this American hinterland idyll.”
Once the situation has escalated, Arne’s neighbor has been cruelly slaughtered under the influence of demons and Michael Chaves has already fired the best scene of the film in the first third with the bloody Arne, who walks lethargically and disillusioned towards the cops on a country road, but now it seems really the actual film starts. Because if it was widely advertised in advance that the Warren case depicted in “Conjuring 3” this time even has a court history, expectations were likely to arise that this very fact would become an elementary part of the film, as one would expect seen impressively in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. And in fact, the trip to court and the final verdict also form the narrative framework of the Warren investigation, which makes up the majority of the film’s plot following the half-hour episode in Arne’s home. But the court subplot doesn’t do anything more than simply provide a bracket. Between the beginning of the trial and the final verdict – one at the beginning, the other towards the end of the film – the details of the trial itself remain completely obscure. Not only is this wasted potential, but it also makes “Conjuring 3” a sham, so to speak. At this point we would hazard a guess: with a significantly greater focus on the court case, the film would have been a lot more exciting, more varied, and even better. But this time the Warrens’ investigations primarily involve an interworldly ghost hunt, as is more familiar from the “Insidious” films.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as Ed and Lorraine Warren.
In the last two films, Lorraine Warren has been established not only as a researcher of the paranormal, but also as a kind of medium who can spiritually empathize with the gruesome backstories of the demon victims. James Wan has so far used this detail only on the sidelines; In “The Conjuring 3: The Devil’s Spell,” however, it becomes the center. One can only say it’s lucky that it’s Vera Farmiga again (“The Judge – Law or Honor”) and Patrick Wilson (“The Founder”) who appear here once again in their star roles as the Warren couple. The two of them, their interaction and their undeniable chemistry with each other, once again prove to be the emotional heart of the film, even if one unfortunately has to say: it is a horror film, like any from the “Conjuring” universe, rather, when the two of them set out to find the origin of evil together with their haunted “customers”. This protective role always gave the films something very warm-hearted. This time, however, Ed and Lorraine go on a scary tour all alone, on which Michael Chaves strings one shock effect after the next, especially on the home straight; And this time, unfortunately, they don’t look nearly as good as they once did. We only remember the Crooked Man, whose spin-off we are still eagerly waiting for… No, there is no such emotionally relatable scene as Ed’s guitar solo in “Conjuring 2” in “Conjuring 3”. In general, the second sequel to the original series is nowhere near as epic as part two – and not as intimate as part one either. “In the Spell of the Devil” falls somewhat between two stools. The narrative dimensions are too large and therefore frayed to create an atmosphere like a classically reduced horror house horror piece, but too small to build on the opulent shock spectacle of its direct predecessor.
“The narrative dimensions of “Conjuring 3” are too large and therefore frayed to create an atmosphere like a classically reduced horror house horror piece, but too small to build on the opulent shock spectacle of its direct predecessor.
Ultimately, what remains is a film that basically has all the ingredients to continue the two “Conjuring” films in a qualitatively adequate manner; Something that James Wan would probably have managed, but Michael Chaves too often lacks comparable tact at this point. As a “man for the rough”, he relies too often on quick shocks, especially in the last third, and – a major weak point of the film – shifts the action too far into otherworldly realms. “The Conjuring” and “Conjuring 2” were so tangible on an emotional level precisely because the haunted people at the center were sympathetic, approachable and portrayed as authentic victims who you simply wanted to escape their predicament – and so did Warren -The couple saw themselves as saviors. “Conjuring 3” lacks depth at every turn and yet it still works as a solid scarer. Simply because it’s pretty creepy that there are actually court documents for this case and because its protagonists are among the most likeable horror film characters of all time.
Conclusion: “Conjuring 3: Under the Spell of the Devil” is the weakest part of the series despite many strong individual scenes and another outstanding ghost hunter couple. And that’s not so much because the last third is extremely sensational and the potential of the premise is not exploited. It’s because director Michael Chaves simply doesn’t (yet) have the skills that James Wan used to get the series off the ground.
“The Conjuring 3: Under the Spell of the Devil” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 1st.