About 10 minutes into The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, I was conjuring up images that were infinitely more frightening than the ones on the screen. I can’t think of a single scene that worked. The glossy sequel, directed by Michael Chaves, never generates any tension or scares, its mystery half-assed, its emotions manufactured by an algorithm. The film just sits there, a multi-million-dollar waste. Why does it exist? The devil – sorry – Hollywood execs made ’em do it.
The movie starts off with a laughably heightened sequence of the Warrens, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga), assisting in the exorcism of little, bespectacled David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). The devil then ends up invading teenager Arne (Ruairi O’Connor), who soon stabs his manager and is promptly arrested. It doesn’t take long for Ed and Lorraine to convince a skeptical lawyer to plead “not guilty by reason of demonic possession.” “Come over for dinner,” the Warrens cheekily tell her, in the film’s most inspired moment, “we’ll introduce you to Annabelle.”
“The Warrens decide to retrace David’s possession…”
The Warrens decide to retrace David’s possession to see if they missed anything. That’s when The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It slows way the f**k down, its mystery unfolding with the urgency of a bloated corpse. Our beloved heroes piece together clues, while redundant flashbacks transport us to Ed and Lorraine’s meet-cute. An eccentric local priest spouts nonsense, blood gushes out of the shower, bodies twist and contort at impossible angles, and creatures from hell crawl towards the camera. By the time the convoluted, shrieky finale arrives, it all blends together into nothing more than dull background noise. Your investment in the story will be indirectly proportional to its running time.
At one point, a water mattress is introduced. Only the most naïve viewer will be shocked by what happens next. This is the level of predictability we’re working with here. Everything is immersed in either pastel browns, darkness, or heavy fog. Jarring, blaring cuts constitute the only scares. I wish I could say that David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s dialogue makes up for those clichés, but nope. “You know, I actually met Elvis once,” Lorraine states. “Was that before or after he died?” a character asks her. “Before… and after,” she replies. Touché. In another eloquent instance, Ed proclaims: “You promised a demon a soul. Well, you can go to hell without one.”
"…marks the eighth entry in the Conjuring Universe."