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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Michael Chaves

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

THE CONJURING franchise has grown massively in recent years, since 2013 the series has spawned more spin offs than core tales of Ed and Lorraine Warren, all to mixed responses. However, despite the uneven balance between fact and horror franchise, the core films have always stayed in the realm of fact taking head and close direction from Lorraine Warren with friend and fan, James Wan.

This memoir retells the tale of the first defense of possession taken in an American court and subsequently shows the events that lead to the murder and defense led by the Warrens (played by everyone’s favourite cinematic couple, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). In 1981, the possession of an 8-year-old boy, David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) is exorcised, after the events, his elder brother Arne (Ruairi O’Connor) violently stabs his landlord 22 times. What seems like an open and shut case for prosecutors soon uncovers a tale of demonic cults and hidden connections to the church that the Warrens have to investigate before Arne is given the death penalty.

The unfortunate death of Lorraine Warren in 2019 and the departure of Wan from the series directorial chair start to show as the movie crawls to its conclusion via a series of “scary” set pieces that are fixed together like a primary school jigsaw puzzle. Michael Chaves (who's only other directorial credit is the series worst entry THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA) really needs to understand the suspense needed in a horror film. Despite all the ingredients being here for a solid (and well told character) story, it really misses the terrifying handle Wan had on the series with suspense and cleverly timed chills that really grab you from under the skin. This is a much more by the numbers tale of demonic possession and as a result just feels like it’s been seen all before and better.

Nothing about THE CONJURING 3 feels bad but then again nothing is earnt and as a result just feels like it’s going through the motions, something a lesser film could get away with but here we really do expect more. While not one of the core movies, ANNABELLE 3 (which had a central role for the Warrens) felt a more suitable trilogy closer than this.

Where THE CONJURING terrified viewers with deserved shocks and slow build, the hidden characters creeping up in THE CONJURING 2 or even iconic dolls (n matter how formulaic the ANNABELLE films have become), THE CONJURING has been a horror staple however it feels like the boat is really starting to slow down and become a drama series focusing on the Warrens. Next stop, THE CONJURING 4: ED GOES TO THE POST OFFICE. No longer are the ghosts and ghouls scary franchise making but instead are more mis directed persons with a penchant for evil. There’s more of MIDSUMMER MURDERS than MIDSOMMAR here and it’s not what we need from the franchise.

There are some saving graces. Luckily, the series has not lost its charming leads. Wilson and Farmiga really do hold the weight of this film on their shoulders. The chemistry between the two is ever present and despite being a more fictionalized romance than the series will have you believe, they really are the greatest on screen horror couple to grace our screens. And despite some earlier scares in the franchise, the overlong nature and spin off churns that impacted the second movie, this feels a much more constraint effort and as a result never gets boring.

There’s big bangs and very little build up but when the action looks this good, it’s not the worst way to spend one hour fifty but the ship needs to either speed up or port now, THE CONJURING is dead, long live the Warrens.

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