Released: 3rd June
Seen: 25th October
Ed and Lorraine Warren were complete and utter con artists whose damage to the people they claimed to help won’t be fully known for years to come. For literally decades they would go from town to town and “investigate” strange goings-on and somehow come to a scientific basis that this meant they found some form of demon. All the time just a whole mess of demons, it’s never mental illness or epilepsy or strange coincidences… nope, always demons. This would eventually lead to them taking part in the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, which would become the basis for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. So now you know what I think about the people this is based on, don’t be shocked when that impacts how I view the movie.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on the real case of Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), a man who was tried for the murder of his landlord Bruno Sauls (Ronnie Gene Blevins). Turns out Arne has had a bit of a history with Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) since those two previously did one of their famous “exorcisms” on Arne’s brother and that allegedly ended with Arne being possessed. In a court of law, the Warren’s try to suggest that a demon made Arne kill so therefore that’s his legal defense… and then we spend about an hour and a half following a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MURDER CASE because why bother having story cohesion when there are loud noises to be made?
Yeah, the potentially interesting story of trying to prove all this insanity really happened in a court of law that you are kind of promised by every trailer and the opening of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. In fact, we don’t even see a courthouse until the last few minutes. Now, maybe this is just because the storyline about the murder of Katie Lincoln was more interesting… that’d be interesting since Katie Lincoln wasn’t actually a real person. Yep, this film that’s “Based on true events” links a REAL MURDER to this fake murder they made up with an occultist behind it all.
Now, surely that’s not a good enough reason to never show any of the trial right? I mean, why make up another story? Could it be because in reality the “Demonic possession” defense was never allowed to be used because it was really fucking stupid? Oh, that’s exactly it. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It claims to be based on true events and it has stretched the term “Based on” further than you expect, to the point where it’s just flat out disrespectful to the actual murder victim. Keep in mind that Arne Johnson is a real person who really stabbed his real landlord, Arne actually got sentenced to 10-20 years in prison and served 5 of them, or as this film puts it “He served 5 years”.
While I’m just ripping the Warrens to shreds, can I also point out that the opening possession scene of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on bullshit too? Like, bullshit so intense that David Glatzel, the boy who is allegedly possessed at the beginning, literally sued the Warrens for invasion of the right to privacy, libel, and intentional affliction of emotional distress. I’m going to link to an article that talks about the lawsuit that was filed but really, the fact that this franchise has turned scumbags like The Warrens into heroes is disgusting on its own… but other than that, how’s the movie?
Do you like long periods of nothing and then loud screams every 5-10 minutes? Great, that’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. That’s all this movie is, boring bits and jumpscares. Not even any real tension or interesting scares, just a weird person with a skin condition staring at the camera for a second before running towards it while screaming like the vibrator up their ass was put on jackhammer speed. It’s frankly boring at this point. These films really only work if those bits between the jumpscares have tension or good character moments or interesting visuals, things that horror movies have… we have the Warrens kneeling on dirt and taking heart medication, which is interesting because Ed and Lorraine Warren didn’t have hearts to begin with.
Now, to be kind (cos I’m a kind and loving person, I can do this), the performances are universally fine. Even after so many goes at it, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson still have incredible chemistry and manage to make the bad dialogue they’ve been handed sound half decent. The other actors do a good job too, good enough that I could’ve seen this movie working if it had a better script and wasn’t based on the stories of compulsive liars who did nothing good in their entire lives… that’s about as kind as I get with this movie, it’s not that good.
Is The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It the worst movie in the Conjuring franchise? No, because The Nun, The Curse of La Llorona and Anabelle all continue to exist despite my desperate attempts to stop them, but it’s still bad. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It not just a bad film on its own merits, but it’s a bad film just based on the pure morality of the situation. Someone actually was murdered, his murderer was talked into trying to use a demonic possession defense by a pair of assholes who enjoyed the fame and fortune they got from playing to gullible idiots and this movie not only abuses that reality to create a lame jumpscare movie, but it then throws in an entire stupid subplot that makes no sense and just steals 2 hours of your time.
The only fair way to end this review is to do the one thing I know the Warren’s would hate the most… quote that article I linked to earlier and the words of David Glatzel, who had his own horror story used for the opening scene of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.
“My brother was never possessed. He, along with my family, was manipulated and exploited, something the Warrens were very good at, and along with their author, Gerald Brittle, they concocted a phony story about demons in an attempt to get rich and famous at our expense, and we have the evidence to prove it.”David Glatzel