Horror fans, are you ready? The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the eighth installment in the Conjuring universe franchise and the third Conjuring movie, is almost here. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprise their roles as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Based on the real-life trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes the Warrens beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, to mark the first time a murder suspect claims demonic possession as a defense. The supernatural flick was directed by Michael Chaves and the cast also features Ruairi O'Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, and John Noble.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It releases in theaters and simultaneously on HBO Max on June 4. We already saw critics’ reactions on social media, but now they’ve started releasing their official reviews, so let’s check them out.
Let’s start, as always, with the home team. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg rated The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It three out of five stars, enjoying some aspects of the movie while not enjoying others. He praised the lead duo of Wilson and Farmiga, calling them “effortlessly charismatic” and “phenomenal,” and also applauded the truly scary aspects of the horror flick. But he argued that the problems with the film revolve around the unfocused plot. Eisenberg said:
Among the highs and the lows of this franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a middle-of-the-pack release that doesn’t hit the highs of its direct predecessors, but is considerably better than some of the spin-offs.
Kate Erbland from IndieWire echoed Eisenberg’s praise of Wilson and Farmiga, noting that the duo’s dedication nearly makes up for the lack of human drama elsewhere. Erbland criticized the muddling and messy story, and though she did enjoy a few “smart” scares, she argued that the different locations and experiences in the movie are so obviously scary that they, in fact, become boring instead. She said:
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are as thrilling and chilling as ever, but the latest film in the possession franchise is messy, stilted, and just not scary.
Anna Bogutskaya of Little White Lies also enjoyed that The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It featured a lot of the lead duo portraying the Warrens, but she thought the actual horror aspect of the horror movie was lacking. Bogutskaya said that it’s hard to care much about the characters being affected by evil (unless it’s the Warrens) because we don’t get to know those characters enough. She said:
The third instalment in the horror franchise gives us a lot of Ed and Lorraine Warren, but not nearly enough Satan.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter had a few more positive things to say about The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. He praised Farmiga and Wilson (definitely sensing a pattern), as well as Joseph Bishara’s score and Michael Burgess’ cinematography. But he, like other critics above, argued that the story became too messy and silly. He thought that the script failed to build the plot from a solid center, and it became too busy, with too many competing elements. Rooney said:
While the fictional developments reportedly are composites of actual interactions Lorraine Warren had over the years, the pile-up of supernatural mayhem becomes numbingly preposterous.
Deadline’s Pete Hammond enjoyed The Conjuring 3. He, like every aforementioned critic, praised the superb chemistry between Farmiga and Wilson, as well as O’Connor’s performance as Arne Johnson. He also commended the genuine horror that held his attention throughout the whole film. Hammond said:
Although director Michael Chaves uses the real case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson (O’Connor), there is some dramatic liberty taken and certain incidents moved around in order to please fans of this genre, but still it will get your blood boiling.
Well, there you have it, folks. Critics are praising the lead couple of Farmiga and Wilson across the board, and I for one can't wait to see them in action. Will audiences enjoy their performances as much as these critics have? We only have a few more days until we find out, since The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It releases in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, June 4.
In the meantime, plan the rest of your summer movie-going experiences with our summer release guide!