Friday, June 11, 2021

Where to Give the Devil His Due in The Conjuring's latest - "The Devil Made Me Do It:" A Film Review

*there are spoilers here*

Director: Michael Chaves.

Writers: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, James Wan, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes.

As entertainment, The Conjuring franchise does a commendable job in playing upon the tropes which makes some horror films great. The latest installment, "The Devil Made Me Do It," is a reasonable continuation to which I'm waiting for all the parts to come together on. It's not the same as the prior works, as it depends on more action than exploration (i.e. the haunted house trope), but I was glad to see the Kolchak style change. 

The directors can liberally copy from other films with recognizable The Exorcist (1973)or Poltergeist (1982) moments as much as they want and include as many obligatory jump scares to the film, and I'm okay with it. As a statement on whether Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are paranormal investigators with their heart in the right place, the jury’s still out. Criticism exists about the real life team on whether they concocted the situations so that it becomes “profitable” for them. At least their love for each other is true, and that's the only reason people like me still continue to watch this series. 

We have the money maker shots in the introduction. Director Michael Chaves imagines the blending of the various planes of existence, and how a young boy, David Glatzel (nicely played by Julian Hilliard), would be the physical anchor to a non corporeal evil. Claw marks manifest out of nowhere, and the heart attack Ed Warren suffers is probably because that entity is pushing his tongue down this paranormal investigator’s throat! We don’t see it, but that’s my guess at what's happening. 

This franchise is less faithful to the cases the real life team dealt with. I'm sure writer-creator James Wan and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick are showing tough love in dealing death blows by altering the facts. They did it to give meat to the cases the Warrens were in, so that they'd be interesting to watch on a big screen. They have to put in a new thread to have all the events tie together. 

David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick wrote the screenplay. Only the first 15 or so minutes feels based on documented materials recorded at the time and the rest filler material. The last half had more fictional elements to the story that could have went Perry Mason on viewers. This included finding another cleric who knew what's going on and helped Lorraine put the pieces of the puzzle together. The fact that a comic book series (The Conjuring: The Lover, Bump in the Night released on the week of the film's release) now exists shows the devil's in it for the money. At least Ed Warren is laughing from beyond since he's been accused of profiteering. 

There’s never been a common denominator in the cases The Warrens investigated. They never proved all acts of evil have the same motivations everywhere. Neither is it fully true the deeds are grabs for power as this latest work suggests. The positive theme in The Conjuring franchise is in how acts of purity (and love) can conquer all. From Arne's (Ruairi O'Connor) self-sacrifice to Lorraine reminding her own possessed husband about their bond, it's possible to dispel the devil yourself instead of relying on a holy man. It makes me wonder where the true fight coming up lays. Plus, we've learned that there's a secret group of witches who may well be causing problems around the world. I'm sure more about who they are will be revealed in later films. After all, this coven may well have plans to free Annabelle the Doll or bring the Demon Nun, an incarnation of Valak, back for that big climatic end.

More from writer Ed Sum, at his own website here: Otakunoculture  

More of the Conjuring - The Conjuring 2 (2016):

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