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‘The Conjuring’ is scary. Period.

Ed and Lorraine Warren are back after five years

<p>"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" is a sequel to "The Conjuring" (2013) and "The Conjuring 2" (2016), as well as the 8th installment in the Conjuring Universe.</p>

"The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" is a sequel to "The Conjuring" (2013) and "The Conjuring 2" (2016), as well as the 8th installment in the Conjuring Universe.

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” brings to the big screen another spine-chilling story from the lives of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively. Despite the longevity of the franchise, the eighth installment in the Conjuring Universe manages to retain the energy and gruesome nature of the previous films, even if it stumbles along the way.

The movie takes place in 1981 but manages to establish this fact without resorting to the use of cheap methods such as riding the recent 80s nostalgia wave — most recently seen in “Wonder Woman 1984.” Many other horror films abuse the “based on a true story” gimmick, but the story is actually based on the real-life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, the first case in US history to put forward the claim of demonic possession in a court of law. 

Far from being predictable and boring, the movie narrative eludes falling prey to monotony by presenting interesting characters facing difficult situations. The story revolves around an exorcism gone wrong where one of the characters murders somebody and defends themselves on the grounds of demonic possession during their murder trial. The Warrens subsequently try to find ways of helping in the trial by gathering evidence. Normally, the villains in horror movies are quite straightforward. Somehow, this film introduces a more nuanced and perhaps more terrifying villain.

As expected, the bond between Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren forms the heart and soul of the story. The incredible performances by Wilson and Farmiga as the Warrens bring much needed love and light to a movie shrouded in darkness. The rest of the cast does not play a prominent role, but all of the actors deliver the performances required of them by their characters. 

While the movie boasts of a solid story and a good cast, the execution of both elements together leaves much to be desired. Some stylistic choices made by the director, Michael Chaves, fit better in his 2019 horror-inspired music video “Bury a Friend” for the artist Billie Eillish rather than a feature-length film. There were moments where the visual effects department integrated more stylized effects which made certain sequences more uncanny, and consequently, fear-inducing. However, some scenes which feature the heavy use of sound to enhance the visual experience suffered from inappropriate sound effects better suited for children’s cartoons. 

The soundtrack features many classics like “Call Me” by Blondie and “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley, intermixed with the original score. Together, the music creates an atmosphere centering the film within a specific time frame while also creating the appropriate amount of suspense. There wasn’t a single moment where the music felt forced or out of place.

The story, the villain, the visual effects, the soundtrack and the score all accomplish the task the “Conjuring” movies set out for. The story is close enough to reality to bring fear into the life of the audience. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga summon enough terror in their eyes to make one feel the same emotions as them. And throughout, the story is accompanied by fitting music which further heightens the tension of the overall movie. The only thing standing in the way of the movie becoming truly great is the artistic direction.

None of the films in the Conjuring Universe have been able to pull off the same macabre combination of the first 2013 “Conjuring” film with its perfect mix of the supernatural, quality storytelling and incredible acting all under the masterful direction of James Wan. Still, “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” stands as a worthy entry in the most successful horror cinematic universe in entertainment today.

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