The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

  • 12 Jun - 18 Jun, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

It’s 1981 and the War rens have been called to document the exorcism of eight-year-old David Glatzel. The officiating priest arrives just in time to witness the kid going full-tilt Regan, calling for an urgent intervention on the kitchen table. Accompanied by the nerve-shredding roar of Joseph Bishara’s score and some tasty visual homages to the William Friedkin classic, the scene is an assault on the senses that induces a major heart attack in Ed as the inhuman spirit jumps from David to his older sister’s boyfriend, Arne Johnson.

Oddly, only Ed seems to have noticed that transference and by the time he regains consciousness in hospital, it’s too late to warn anyone about Arne, whose sleep has been troubled and his waking hours plagued by startling visions. Soon after, he’s found by a cop wandering along the road drenched in blood, muttering, “I think I hurt someone.” With the support of the Warrens, his case becomes the first American murder trial to claim demonic possession as a defense.

So far so blood-curdlingly good. But the deeper the Warrens delve into the history of David Glatzel’s possession and similar mysteries connecting back to a satanic curse passed on through macabre totems and the home-furnishing felony of the waterbed, the more contrived Johnson-McGoldrick’s screenplay becomes.

Ed’s medical condition sidelines Wilson from the physical action for much of the running time, making Lorraine’s clairvoyant gifts the investigative key, more so than in earlier installments.

The movie starts seriously going over the edge when Ed and Lorraine break into a morgue at night and find themselves in reanimated company. Revelations concerning a retired priest known for his occult research tip it even further into overwrought genre bunkum.

Through all this, Arne seems frequently forgotten – a shame, since lean and haunted O’Connor has a striking screen presence. Arne languishes in a prison, ravaged from within and regularly rattled as the originator of the curse gets closer to claiming his life.

In terms of craftsmanship, The Devil Made Me Do It is certainly slick. DP Michael Burgess’ camera adopts unnerving angles and prowls insidiously through one sepulchral-looking space after another, and the groaning soundscape works in tandem with Bishara’s big scary score to creep under the audience’s skin. But the palpitating storytelling loses its way while trying to do the same.

– Compilation