A lot of horror movies have been coming out of Hollyweird lately. There’s nothing sinister to this. Horror movies are the cheapest genre of movie to make, all you need is a dark basement and some fake blood, and nobody wants to risk a big-budget film with all the randomly ‘scientific’ lockdowns in Current Year. (Except Tom Cruise and his aptly-named “Mission: Impossible” movie sequel. I hope his emotional meltdowns make it onto the blooper reel.) I found this review of a Christian horror movie and frankly, the good guys are way scarier than the demon-possessed mass murderer.
‘Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ Review: Simple Christian Decency vs. Pure Evil
By John Nolte, 5 June 2021
The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is the eighth chapter of the eight-year-old Conjuring universe and the second sequel to the one that started it all, 2013’s knock-out, The Conjuring, which is still the best of the series by a country mile.
So that’s what pundit John Nolte does for fun. Not that I should judge; I had a fetish for the Syfy Channel for years.
The Conjuring and its 2016 sequel had two things in common. Both were supernatural, haunted house thrillers and both starred Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, a real-life married couple who spent their lives investigating the paranormal. The Warrens were also devout Catholics totally devoted to one another.
Lazy scriptwriting, right off the bat. The first tip-off is “based on a true story”. Get a writer, you hacks! The second is a husband-and-wife Catholic paranormal investigation team. That’s the horror equivalent of sending the 101st Airborne to thwart a nuclear missile launch… it’s the ideal men for the job, which takes a lot of horror out of the horror story.
How is the movie supposed to be scary when the protagonists are ideally suited to exposition the plot to death? You can make a good adventure movie this way, Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm is an easy example, and you can do it for comedy like Ghostbusters did, but not horror.
[Nota bene, I haven’t watched this movie. Horror’s not my thing generally and Christian fiction sucks more ass than a Congressman.]
I suspect this movie, far from being horror, is Christian Porn. The appeal of functional Christianity is undeniable; the current drought of divine favor might just be unprecedented since the days of Noah. Regardless, the sad truth is that institutional religion and Complementarian marriages do not work outside the realm of imagination. You can roleplay “Modern Churchianity is a good idea” if I can roleplay “I’m a dragon”.
This new chapter thankfully holds on to Farmiga and Wilson but wisely jettisons the haunted house setting. The Devil Made Me Do It is more along the lines of a race-against-the-clock procedural, which is a nice change of pace but admittedly a letdown for horror fans like myself looking to re-experience the original Conjuring’s unbearable sense of dread.
Yes, it’s hard to get a sense of dread from watching professionals do what they trained for years to do.
The Devil Made Me Do It is based in part on the true story of the Warrens’ involvement in a 1981 case involving the exorcism of a young boy that led to a brutal murder. The murderer, Arne Johnson, pleaded Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession. Because they believed him, the Warrens fought for his acquittal.
Are you f*cking serious? The plot of this movie is “we should let the murderer go free because it wasn’t him, it was the voices in his head using his body, and it totally won’t happen again if we just wave a Cross at him”?
That’s not even fiction. That’s Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon and he is no Christian.
Yeah, that’s why I don’t watch horror movies. I prefer my entertainment to be an ESCAPE from the real world. I want to scare myself, I look out my window at the police putting LGBT rainbow stickers on their cruisers. Stupid Commiefornia.
In the movie, (I don’t know how much of the following is based on the actual case)…
Very little. A court cannot rule “not guilty by demonic possession” without being able to see the demon under a microscope. Also, we Christians know that demons don’t possess people for a quickie drive-by shooting or something. That’s just not how it works.
…to prove Arne was indeed possessed and to save him from the electric chair, the Warrens are under the gun to not only convince a jury demonic possession is real…
We may conclude that in addition to being registered Catholics, the Warrens are also registered Democrats.
… but to put an end to a satanic ritual that, if completed, will cost a number of innocent people their souls.
I am reliably informed that the trick to stopping such rituals is cutting the red wire first.
What makes The Devil Made Me Do It work is not the plot…
As I suspected.
…or its jump scares…
As I suspected. Get a writer, you hacks!
…but Wilson and Farmiga and a powerful theme about how evil has no motive other than the defilement of innocence and chaos, and can only be stopped (albeit temporarily) through vigilance, decency, and faith in Christ.
What a defeatist and materialist form of Christianity that is. No wonder that Cuckservatives cannot identify Evil when it presents itself as a victim.
Chaos is not a goal of the devil. As history records many times, he’s perfectly fine with institutionalized murder, theft and destruction.
What the Conjuring trilogy offers us is something truly rare these days: two uncomplicated, utterly sincere married protagonists who are deeply in love, who live by their Catholic faith, seek to do good, and who are portrayed by Hollywood as just that. And it works. The Warrens have no dark side, no moral flaws, which is what makes them so fascinating, relatable, and heroic.
The spirit of Christ is Twu Wuv and good intentions? With the woman, so far as this review presents her, being a peer on equal authority with her husband? I cannot imagine allowing a wife I cared about anywhere near exorcism work. She is the weaker, more easily deceived vessel. Which would have been a much better plot: the murderer is revealed cured of demonic possession, but only because the demon managed to transfer into wifey thanks to the carelessness of hubby assuming she was Strong & Independent just like him. No need for jump scares, just a bedroom scene in which wifey isn’t speaking in her normal voice anymore… he saved the murderer at the price of his own blood….
Modern-day Hollywood will tell you characters without moral flaws are boring, but this of course is a crutch and pure rubbish. Not only does the Conjuring prove that a lie, so too did much of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Flawless characters ARE boring. There’s no room for character growth. No hard choices or competing loyalties to be navigated.
Instead, we get jump scares.
Not to get too far off track, but a good example is the difference between J. Lee Thompson’s original Cape Fear (1962) and Martin Scorsese’s overwrought 1991 remake.
While Scorsese’s remake had all the advantages of a massive budget, an A-list cast (Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange, Nick Nolte), and none of 1962’s boundaries on explicit content, it is still by far the lesser of the two. Why? Well, there’s a few reasons, but the primary one is Scorsese perverting the very thing that made the original so compelling, what made it a stone-cold classic.
On top of Robert Mitchum’s Oscar-worthy-for-the-ages performance as Max Cady, 1962’s Cape Fear is deliberately about unspeakable, unstoppable evil (Mitchum) seeking to corrupt and then destroy Gregory Peck and Polly Bergen’s wholesome American family. That’s where the horror comes from, the dread… I’ve seen the 1962 version at least 20 times, it never loses its power.
Do you see the difference Mr. Nolte? Those protagonists were not Vatican-trained professional exorcists. They were normal, likable people, which gives the audience representation in the story.
Scorsese, for whatever ludicrous reason, either forgot this or didn’t care. His family is the opposite of wholesome. Dad’s having an affair and violated his legal code of ethics, mom’s a boozy and bitter drunk, and the daughter actually wants to be corrupted. So what we get instead of a theme that sits in our gut like a block of ice, is an admittedly well-directed cat-and-mouse slasher movie that’s also pretty forgettable.
Because the audience didn’t care about THOSE normal people. Not because the family was not Churchian enough to qualify as Good People.
The Conjuring would be a true pile of nothing special if it went this same route — if, say, while fighting Satan, Ed and Lorraine were trying to salvage a crumbling marriage and questioning their faith.
Nolte is missing the point of the Cape Fear remake, which was to destroy a good act of storytelling by overwriting it. The Cape Fear remake was intentionally bad, like all of Current Year remakes. The audience was not supposed to care about the family.
For a man excited about a Christian couple fighting against evil, Nolte misses a lot of real-world opportunities.
The truth is that in truly talented hands, black and white can work beautifully, and with the pitch-perfect casting of Wilson and most especially Farmiga (the rare actress today who is beautiful, talented, and interesting enough she would’ve made a mark in the Golden Age), and it’s that deliberate approach that lifts the Conjuring into something special.
If you like green eyes, I guess, but she’s already cut her hair and is shaping it into a Skrillex.
In a few years, when I sit down for a rewatch of The Devil Made Me Do It, it won’t be for the scares — it wasn’t all that scary the first time. It will be for the richer experience of a thematic undercurrent that explores how incorruptible decency is its own superpower. If you look close enough, this fascinating theme drives the whole movie, including a subplot involving another priest. To me, at least, theme is what matters most and what brings me back again and again.
The idea that being Nice Enough is a superpower? The theme that women can be put on the frontlines of war while remaining fresh and desirable? The fantasy that being a credentialed member of an established, large denomination is not a hopelessly stupid idea in Current Year?
In today’s dull, preachy, predictable, insulting, and off-putting world of TV and movies, Christian decency is the new edgy, Ed and Lorraine Warren are the new counterculture, and hopefully, we haven’t seen the last of them.
So he wishes. He wishes very hard, that the lies he’s been fed his entire life are not lies at all. That following his Assigned Life Script will make him a great man. That just because a murderer is stained to his elbows in innocent blood, doesn’t mean he isn’t a good kid goin’ to college.