The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It follows the Warrens in their third macabre adventure, this time investigating a murder in which the culprit claims we was possessed. They must prove his innocence by finding the real murderer...an entity that might have been intentionally summoned.
The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It Review
The Conjuring 3 (I'm not typing out that sub-title more than I already have) is a serviceable sequel that didn't stretch the characters or flex the horror muscles of the franchise. The first film established a new universe/generation of horror that focused on peripheral images, long camera shots and pans, and creative set pieces. The sequel built on the first's success, and for me it was more entertaining with a more engaging story and more memorable entities (where's my Crooked Man movie???). This third entry lacks the feeling of natural progression, half-heartedly handling its subplots and going through the numbers the first two films had established.
Where the sequel seemed to tackle "how much longer can we do this before the toll on us is too much?", this third entry haphazardly recycles that subplot without building on it or really openly addressing it like they did in the previous film. It felt like something that was forced into the narrative simply because it was a big deal before and they couldn't completely ignore it.
The scares were by far the weakest of the main-line franchise. I can't recall anything beyond a couple of moments in which I felt unsettled in a scene or genuinely scared. Sure, I've built up an insane desensitization to horror movies at this point, but this universe has always been effective at still giving me a scare or two, and this installment was almost as ineffective as The Nun spin-off for me.
[SPOILERS BELOW...Discussing the main plot]
The main plot was somehow equal parts interesting and boring. I found the idea of a "temporary" possession via a totem created by a cult to be a unique take. The cultist was a different take on the villain angle of the franchise, but it also turned out to be less sinister. The demonic entities take a back seat. And I mean "they are sitting in the back row of a school bus" back seat. So while I was intrigued to see where the cultist angle was going to go and how it played like a rival to Lorraine Warren, she never felt like the threat that Valac was. It leads to a few dramatic moments and a couple of fun ideas, but inevitably the danger feels trivial.
Despite my issues with it, I approached this film with a high bar to meet. This franchise is one of the safest bets in mainstream horror. While I was hoping for more, I also wasn't frustrated with the production. It is still a well-crafted horror film that tries to give something new rather than re-hash another "demon to decipher and defeat" plot that could've been far worse. Perhaps it's a sign that this main franchise is in its twilight years, and that's okay. But maybe it's just a hiccup that needs to be a little reinvigorated to move forward.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 6/10