By: Jaimz Dillman
Admittedly, I went into this screening having not seen the previous Conjuring movies - eight in total, if you count all, including the Annabelle movies, The Nun, and The Curse of La Llorrona. The basic premise is the stories are inspired by the supposed real-life cases of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles again) spanning years 1952- 1981. And we all know how scary the 70's were - that fashion!
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT starts us off mid-exorcism of eight-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) in the family home. Just as the little boy settles in to sleep, the priest arrives and pisses off the demon, and, surprise, all hell breaks loose. Big sister's boyfriend, Arne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor) comes to the rescue to save him, which leads into the story for this edition of the Warren's findings.
Not a haunted house story, but focusing more on haunted objects, this round isn't so much about possession as it is a curse. Poor Arne finds himself in the middle of a satanic curse being conjured (get it) by a follower of the Church of Satan. Not to give too many spoilers away, his real-life court case was the first in the U.S. to use demonic possession as a defense of a crime.
Finding clues and connections to other strange occurrences in the area help the Warrens convince police and the court to allow the defense - especially after the judge is invited to their house to discuss the evidence and "meet Annabelle."
A series of events happen within a triangle radius, a trio of people are needed for the curse, and three objects are found that involve them all. One evil puppet master controls it all, and Lorraine's psychic abilities come into play to connect the dots.
The story slowly unfolds as more of a mystery than a horror movie, but the jump scares are definitely there. As the ending approaches, all the suspense and build-up sadly dissolves into a saccharine message of love conquers hate and true love will win over evil. The ending scene made me long for an undead zombie hand shocker a la Carrie, but I guess it wrapped things up in a sweet, little bow, considering rumors that the headlining stars won't return for another sequel.
If you've followed the series so far, I'm sure it'll be enjoyable for fans of the Warren's adventures. It did make me want to go back and see the others. But personally, I prefer my horror with a little less heart, and a little more gore.
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT hits theaters and HBO Max on June 4.
Thanks to Spooky Empire for the advance screening tickets!