Blu-ray Review: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

August 21, 2021

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely - Horror Fuel CEO & Executive Producer Email: [email protected]

 

 
 
Back in 2013, we were introduced to Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the real-life paranormal experts and demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. At the time we had no idea at the universe that would be born. Now, the third installment of The Conjuring franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is coming to 4K, Blu-ray and DVD. Ahead of the release, I watched the Blu-ray as well as the many special features. Here’s my review.
 
Spoilers Ahead
 
In the movie, we witness the chilling story based on the real case of possession and murder that begins with David, a possessed child. When the curse is transferred to Arne Johnson he takes a life. Arne’s case is the first in US history to be pled as possession. As he awaits his trial things escalate and the Warrens learn that someone is behind the curse that has unleashed the demon, that’s when we are introduced to the latest Conjuring Villain, “The Occultist,” played by Eugenie Bondurant.
 
If you’re wondering if The Conjuring 3 is scary, the answer is yes. There are a lot of suspenseful moments, and a ton of jump scares, which we’ve come to expect from the franchise.
 
I did find the story more elevated than those in previous installments. More complex, the movie delivers a story with more emotions and an interesting mystery. There’s a lot going in the movie, but it all balances out without being overbearing or too much to keep up with. While only half of the story is based on a true story this time (Arne), the parts featuring “The Occultist” blends well into the story.
 
The character of Arne, played by Ruairi O’Connor, is based on the real man Arne Chyanne Johnson. After his girlfriend’s little brother David becomes possessed Arne invites the spirit into himself to relieve David’s suffering. Not long after, Arne kills his landlord and claims that he was possessed during the murder. Ed and Lorraine became involved in the case that made headlines around the world. His plea of possession was not accepted by the judge however, instead, he pled self-defense which was a good thing. Imagine the ramifications if the judge had accepted it. Every killer would be claiming that the devil made them do it. In the end, Arne ended up serving only five years of his 10 to 20-year sentence. He went on to marry David’s sister Debbie (Sarah Catherine Hook) who witnessed the murder. O’Connor did a fantastic job in his role which called for both a lot of emotional and physical scenes.
 
The Occultist is a new character to the Conjuring Universe. She was raised in secret after her mother died in childbirth by her father, a priest. The Occultist has made a deal with a demon, in return, she must give it two souls killed by murder and two by suicide with Arne being her final victim to seal her deal. Her father worked for many years for the church investigating the Cult of the Ram, which is how she was introduced to the world of demons and black magic. Bondurant nailed her dark, cruel character and came across as very believable. Be sure to check out our interview with Eugenie Bondurant in which we talk in detail about her role.
 
As always, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga did a fantastic job. They brought a ton of emotion this time around as Ed’s health problems weighed heavy on Lorraine’s mind.  They both made their characters feel realistic, which is important in these types of films. You can’t help but feel empathy for the couple.
 
How does the movie stack up to the true story? Judging by my research, I would say the story stays pretty true reality. There were small changes though. In the movie, Arne’s lawyer was played by a woman, in reality, it was a man. The cop that arrested Arne in real life was white and in the movie he was African American. But those are the only two things I noticed and they are both minor.
 
James Wan did not direct this time around, Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) did. You can feel the difference, but they have a similar style which makes the movie fit well into the franchise. It feels a little darker in some ways though (not that I’m complaining). Overall, I think Chaves did a great job.
 
We need to talk about the movie’s special features. They are killer! In “By Reason of Demonic Possession,” we get an in-depth look at the movie and its story. We also hear from Debbie Johnson, Arne’s wife, as well as writer and producer James Wan. In “The Occultist” we learn about the villain and are introduced to Eugenie Bondurant. My favorite special feature is “Exorcism of Fear” which explores David’s exorcism and shows how the exorcism scene was made. To my surprise, the scene where David is contorting in horrifying ways was actually played by a real contortionist, young Emerald Gordon Wulf. The final special feature is a good one, “DC Horror Presents The Conjuring – The Lover #1”. It features the pages of the new Conjuring companion comic with voiceovers. It tells half of the story of the two girls killed in the film. You can learn more about the comic here.
 
While The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a bit different than its predecessors, having the story split between reality and fiction, in my opinion, it’s a great addition to The Conjuring Universe. It delivers an interesting story that triggers many emotions in viewers, empathy, fear, shock. The cast is fantastic, and the special effects are amazing (as always). It’s also creepy as hell. Be sure to pick up a copy of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It on 4K, Blu-ray, or DVD on August 24, 2021, from Warner Bros.
 
 

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