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Film / The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a 2021 supernatural horror film. It is the third film in the mainline Conjuring series, and the seventh film overall in The Conjuring Universe. Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) takes over directing duties from James Wan. As with the rest of the 2021 Warner Bros. film slate, it was simultaneously released in theaters and on HBO Max for a 31-day period.

The film dramatizes the 1981 murder case of Arne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor), who killed his landlord under demonic possession. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) investigate his case, uncovering a link between Arne's possession and a previous murder that goes back to a dark curse that the Warrens must stop before it's too late for Arne.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The first film in The Conjuring Universe to be set in this decade.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The first victims of the curse were a pair of girls named Jessica Strong and Katie Lincoln. Although their sexuality is not explicitly stated, Lorraine's visions and Jessica's gravestone that is shown at the end, which includes memorabilia of their carved initials, highly suggest that they were a couple.
  • Artistic License – Law: Given the sheer volume of paranormal events that occur on camera and in front of witnesses would be more than enough to meet any burden of proof for any defense. Even without the recordings and videos, sworn statements from the 20 plus witness' would have been enough for a duress defense. Still, this is disgraced and Arne is convicted anyway.
  • Big Bad: Isla/The Occultist, a satanist who started the curse that plagued the Glatzels.
  • Big Brother Instinct: The whole reason why the curse targets Arne is that he tells the demon to leave David, his girlfriend's younger brother, and take him instead.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The epilogue text states that Arne still ends up being convicted of manslaughter and has to serve five years in prison, but he and Debbie stay together and marry while he's in prison. The two were still together at the time the film was finished, and remained so until Debbie passed away from cancer in 2021.
  • Body Horror: Several victims of demonic possession have their bodies contorted with audible cracking and creaking of joints and bones.
  • The Cameo:
    • Judy Warren, as played by Sterling Jerins, briefly visits Ed at the hospital after his heart attack. Dialogues indicate that she no longer lives with her parents, and the sweatshirt she wears makes it clear that she has gone to college.
    • Annabelle and Ed's painting of Valak can be seen in the Occult Museum at the end.
  • Clear My Name: The film's plot revolves around the Warrens trying to find a way to prove the innocence of a murder suspect who claims that he was driven to murder by a supernatural entity.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: After the Warrens break Isla’s curse, her body contorts painfully until the demon she served appears to crush her forehead when taking her soul. Isla also murders, attempts to murder, or successfully causes the victims of her curse to murder people this way, whether by stabbing their victims almost two dozen times or by simply slitting their throats.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first two films were certainly dark, but they lacked the explicit violence and gore of this film. Not to mention, the first film only had one character die during the present events, being the dog, and the second had zero casualties while this one ups the death count.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: A whole kennel full of them, which naturally go ballistic upon sensing Arne.
  • Foregone Conclusion: There are several scenes where Ed suffers from a heart condition (implying it may cause his death in short term,) and a scene near the end where he attempts to murder Lorraine after being brainwashed by Isla. Since the Warrens are real people, their eventual survival at the end of the movie isn't much of a surprise. The real Ed and Lorraine respectively died in 2006 and 2019.
  • Gilligan Cut: A variant. When the Warrens propose to Arne's defense attorney that they pleas non-guilty by reason of demonic possession, the attorney is clearly incredulous about the whole thing, so they invite her over for dinner and tell her they can introduce her to Annabelle. Cut to the following day, after said dinner, the clearly shaken defense attorney unwaveringly declares non-guilty by reason of demonic possession to the judge in the courtroom.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The demon worshiped by the Big Bad.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: According to Ed, the occultist must continue the curse, because their soul is at stake. When Ed manages to destroy the curse, it turns back on Isla, the occultist, and drags her soul to Hell.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Ed suffers a heart attack during David Glatzel's exorcism, causing him to spend the rest of the film struggling to move. He's made to use a wheelchair to descend the court staircase, which he insists he doesn't need.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: During the scene at the morgue, Ed and Lorraine are confronted by the reanimated corpse of a bloated, naked man. The same corpse later appears at the Warren residence to attack Ed, although this was a hallucination.
  • Patricide: Isla kills Kastner, who was her father.
  • The Power of Love: Lorraine manages to break through Ed's possession and the curse itself through a combination of sheer, bloody-minded stubbornness and unconditional love.
    Lorraine: ...she thinks our love is our weakness, but it's not. It's not. It's our strength.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Warrens and Debbie must find a way to prove Arne's innocence before his trial, because his attorney warns that he will certainly receive the death penalty should there be no evidence to absolve him. It also turns out that the curse that Arne is under demands his death by suicide, so the Warrens and crew are also trying to save his life.
  • Shout-Out: As pointed out in this article, the director inserted several homages to classic horror films:
    • The shot of Father Gordon arriving to assist the Warrens in the Glatzel exorcism is based on the iconic shot of Father Merrin arriving at the McNeil house from The Exorcist.
    • The scene of David Glatzel being tormented by the demon in the shower is a double homage to both Carrie (blood pouring on him) and Psycho (the silhouette of his hand grabbing the shower curtain).
    • The Occultist pulling the curtain to watch Arne from the second floor window is a reference to Norman Bates doing the same from Psycho.
    • The waterbed scene is a homage to another waterbed scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
    • Father Kastner's introduction is similar to the scene in Pet Sematary where Jud Crandall is introduced.
    • The Warrens discussing the case at a hotel room echoes a scene from Vertigo where Scottie encounters Judy Barton.
    • The climactic scene of Ed being driven to hunt Lorraine while carrying a sledgehammer is a reference to the famous scene of Jack Torrance hunting his family with an axe from The Shining.
  • Stopped Numbering Sequels: The film was originally referred to as The Conjuring 3 in the press before the official title was revealed, replacing the number with a subtitle.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The occultist's MO is tricking her victims into severe hallucinations, causing them to think that they are being attacked by the demon. Ed is victim of this during the climax.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Several things about the murder Arne commits, and the subsequent trial, are changed. Obviously the real case had no connection to the fictional Disciples of the Ram. In real life, the victim's name was 'Alan Bono', not 'Bruno Sauls', and they were stabbed only about five or six times before dying in the hospital. Johnson's lawyer was a man named Martin Minella, instead of the unnamed female lawyer we see in the film. Perhaps most glaring is the judge allowing for the demonic possession defense at the trial, when in real life, Judge Robert Callahan threw out the defense immediately, saying that all evidence pertaining to this defense would be too "irrelative and unscientific" to allow in a court of law.
  • The Unreveal: Just why Isla started the curse, her goals and what the curse even does beyond vague mentions of granting power. Odd considering a plot point and characteristic of her father is his drive to understand why people become Satanists in the first place. This question is also never answered or revealed.