*. Mock me all you want, but I was actually looking forward to The Conjuring 3, or The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (or, as the title on the DVD box has it, The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It). I’d sort of enjoyed The Conjuring, though I thought it seemed a bit too much of an Amityville Horror clone. And I liked The Conjuring 2 a little more, perhaps because Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren were getting comfy in their roles as the ghostbusting odd couple, playing the material just this side of parody.
*. Alas, the third time is not the charm. Maybe it’s the fact that director James Wan didn’t come back for this one, passing the torch to Conjuring-universe alum Michael Chaves, who’d done The Curse of La Llorona, one of the least inspired entries in the franchise. Or maybe it’s just that they were right out of ideas.
*. They do try a slight change of pace in making this into a sort of detective thriller, playing a bit like The Ring as Ed and Lorraine try to find out who or what is behind a recent spate of demon-possession murders. But despite being “based on a true story” I had no idea what was going on.
*. There’s a woman who summons a demon and then uses black magic to kill people because . . . I really don’t know. At one point Ed and Lorraine ask a creepy ex-priest to explain and he tells them that there is no understanding “why?” when it comes to the behaviour of demons. So there.
*. Things get off to a good start with an exorcism that goes a little crazy when the kid being exorcised begins twisting into all sorts of weird shapes. Apparently this was done by a contortionist in-camera, which amazed me. But after that things go downhill quickly and stay there.
*. No scares, and none of the smiles that Wilson and Farmiga evoked in the first two movies. I did like the demon coming out of the waterbed though. It made me wonder when the last time was I saw a waterbed. When I was a kid in the ’70s I had a friend who had one. I don’t think I’ve seen one since. I don’t even know where you’d go to buy one.
*. Everything just seems off and nothing works. Blondie’s “Call Me” becomes the demon’s signature tune? The priest doing the exorcism at the end can only repeat the Lord’s Prayer over and over again? Man, I could have done that much, and I wouldn’t have needed to read it either. I think I know the words.
*. The money made them do it. A gross of over $200 million on a budget of under $40 million. So I guess we’re going to see more of these. But I hope they can right the ship because what with Ed and Lorraine and all the spin-offs (Annabelle, The Nun, etc.) they’re running on empty now and I can honestly say that I’ve lost interest. This is clearly the worst Conjuring movie and one of the weakest films set in the Conjuring universe. They need to do better, or do something else.