There is a little known fact about little old me. I adore horror films. Since I sat alone in a haunted pub once as a teenager scaring the bejeezus out of myself watching ‘The Exorcist’ I was hooked. I don’t what it is about the desire to scare oneself silly, but I know I am not alone. Coincidentally, the only film critic I admire is Mark Kermode and he happened to write his PhD on ‘The Exorcist’. So I know I am in good company.
On to the film. You don’t need to have seen the first two instalments to appreciate ‘The Conjuring-The Devil Made Me Do It’ to enjoy it. It is definitely a stand-alone film. But those who have had the pleasure of getting to know Mr and Mrs Warren will not be disappointed. Based on the true story of a murder trial in which the defence is based on demonic possession as mitigating circumstances, director Michael Chaves does a sterling job with what could have been a disaster. One cannot help but compare any film about demonic possession with ‘The Exorcist’ and Mr Chaves is well aware of this. For all you film buffs out there, see if you can spot the lovely little reference to it early on in the proceedings.
As for the acting, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are superbly cast as the supernatural investigating married couple. They have wonderful on-screen chemistry and have developed the true-life characters incredibly well over the series of films. They bring a certain gravitas often lacking in the horror genre. The supporting cast is well chosen too as an all American family just going about their business in the early nineteen eighties.
This is definitely a well-rounded film with believable special effects to enhance the great acting and good direction. No dated spinning heads and pea soup vomit here. The physical aspect of possession is the key player, with some quite terrifying manoeuvres being displayed. It put me in mind of the clever use of physicality in the film ‘World War Z’, where professional dancers were hired to create a specific set of moves. Very clever. Set design and locations only added to the authenticity. I dropped my popcorn several times.
Whatever your personal belief system is, ‘The Conjuring’ will definitely have you questioning whether or not there are unseen forces at play all around us. As Ed Warren gravely says to a disbelieving judge, “The court accepts the witness of God, it’s about time they accept the existence of the Devil”. I fear he may be right.
The Conjuring-The Devil Made Me Do It is currently showing at cinemas in Malta.