The first Conjuring movie was such a welcome surprise and well made horror flick that a sequel was inevitable. After too many remakes of better horror movies and PG-13 rated thrillers, it was nice to finally see an R-rated horror flick again.
Yet an entire franchise has sprung up on over the past decade. I’ve only seen the first Annabelle and Nun movie but didn’t like either.
When I first heard the third movie was going to focus on the demonic possession defense by Arte Johnson, played by Ruiari O’Conner, I thought they maybe switching gears was a right move. I was expecting something along the lines of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. What the filmmakers instead made was a Law & Order style movie.
It doesn’t help that James Wan isn’t the director but Michael Chaves and the tone and style is obvious.
You could replace Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren with Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay and probably not change much. It might be an improvement.
That’s not saying Wilson and Farmiga are bad in their duties as the Warrens. In fact, their chemistry holds this movie together. But in this movie, they become the main focus while little is given to Johnson and his case. Considering that there were trial transcripts and court documents to look through to use, it boggles the mind why so little is given to the actual court proceedings. One scene deals with the arraignment. The other deals with his verdict and there is a Dragnet like type on the screen about Johnson being convicted for manslaughter.
Either the filmmakers couldn’t take as many civil liberties or the actual trial proceeding was so generic, the demonic possession defense hardly was mentioned.
So little is given to the victim either. All we’re shown is he was Johnson’s landlord and might have gotten to close to Johnson’s girlfriend, which probably any law officer or prosecutor would use as a motive.
Instead there’s a story as the Warrens discover similar murders which lead them to an elderly clergy played by John Noble and an Occultist.
This Conjuring movie has more homage to better horror movies, most notably The Exorcist and there is a case in Danvers, Mass., which made me remember the much better Session 9, which was filmed at the now-demolished mental health hospital in Danvers.
I’m sure the Warrens have many more cases that could make a better movie than this. The Enfield Poltergeist in the second movie has been mostly debunked as a hoax, but the movie gave us the creepy Crooked Man. Here the Occultist (Eugenie Bondurant) isn’t that scary.
If a fourth Conjuring is in the works, I sure hope it returns to what made the first two so great.