Scully and Mulder. Morticia and Gomez. Shaun and Ed. Horror history is littered with heroic duos and petrifying partners, but how many of them have banked half a billion at the box office? The Conjuring‘s Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) have dominated the darker corners of the multiplex for nearly ten years now – and they’ve done it with wit, wisdom and an Olympic-sized swimming pool’s worth of holy water. Continuously kicking demonic ass is one thing, but laying down God’s law on the devilish and still finding time for a DMC between exorcisms is another. They are, undisputedly, the first couple of horror.
And so we come to their third on-screen outing together. Based on a real-life happening – as are all the Warrens’ cases – The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It takes the franchise in a new and exciting direction. Rather than rocking up to the haunted house and preventing catastrophe, Ed and Lorraine’s latest investigation is into a murder that’s already occurred. Handsome youngster Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) did the deed, but only because he was possessed by a terrifying spirit that a local witch summoned. Part paranormal fright-fest part twisty crime drama, The Devil Made Me Do It follows the fight to clear Arne’s name – and track down the old crone causing havoc in the community.
It’s a clever concept that forces the supernatural world of the story to interact with boring, non-spooky real life – because after the awful ordeal is over, how do you get the normies to believe it ever happened? Our loved-up experts spend a lot of time working that one out, but until they reach their conclusion we make do with the usual jump-scares, falling female protagonists and dusty basements. These movies have always been stuffed with genre clichés (this one features almost all of them), but each cheap jolt in the first two films was done just differently enough – and with such enthusiasm – that you didn’t care. It’s the same in The Devil Made Me Do It. A shower scene is shot from a slightly different angle; the under-the-bed setpiece is freshened up with a see-through mattress; you know what’s coming when Arne bends down to retrieve his mysteriously dislodged cereal packet, but the speed and noise at which the film comes for you is exhilarating. This is popcorn horror at its most fun and irresistible.
Of course, the action is backed up by strong central characters – and a scene-stealing cameo from John Noble (Denethor in The Lord Of The Rings) who plays a listless old priest – while Wilson and Farmiga fit back into their parts like a pair of comfy slippers. We even learn a bit more about Ed and Lorraine’s backstory, including a wholesome meet-cute that will make fans fall in love with them all over again. Their relationship is at the heart of The Devil Made Me Do It – to a greater extent than before – and everyone else is all the better for it.
- Director: Michael Chaves
- Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor
- Release date: May 26 (in cinemas)