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  • Pepito Cadena


Our prayers are answered with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, a film that just might absolve sins of the franchise’s past. Director Michael Chaves (who helmed the culturally out-of-touch The Curse of La Llorona) takes the reins of the universe created by James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence) for a redeeming directorial venture.

From the start, The Devil Made Me Do It is incredibly self-aware with a lengthy homage to The Exorcist. It drags a bit, but the reverence is appreciated. Conjuring fans will find an aesthetically familiar world with retro prints and high hairdos. The pacing hits a sweet spot in the first act, benefitting from being the third entry in the series. There’s no over-explanation nor crowded narrative. Commentary on the fine line between obsession and fascination helps steer this franchise into new territory.

Our beloved Warrens are back, played charismatically by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. Wandavision’s Julian Hilliard steals EVERY scene. We’re gonna have a talk with his parents about letting him go to prison to visit a possessed murderer though. John Noble’s unsettling voice helps make his character a welcome addition to The Conjuring mythology.

Thankfully, the cringe-worthy choices (ex: centering white characters) that plagued The Curse of La Llorona are absent here. However, Chaves’ blindspots are evident. Returning actor Shannon Kook is given the bare minimum. The only Black characters are public servants lacking any real agency. Casting Black actors in police roles (ex: Spiral, A Quiet Place Part II) feels almost like Hollywood’s bizarre reaction to socio-political issues affecting Black communities.

As with any popcorn flick, there are also smaller, run-of-the-mill issues. The Devil Made Me Do It loses focus of the real-life court case about halfway through. There’s an animated corpse that inspires an arguably fatphobic sequence. Also, Eugenie Bondurant’s The Occultist stalks slowly for eerie effect, but it's hard to ignore how counterproductive this ends up being. She might have succeeded in her plot had she just ran to defend her altar instead of walking slowly.

For all its faults, the film is still a welcome steer in a frightening new direction. Most fascinating is always the true events behind these stories. Considering the length of the Warrens’ career, we can only pray for more.



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