in the The incantation: The devil made me do it, we learn that demonic possession is a legal defense strategy, that girlfriends are allowed to stay in jail overnight to comfort their allegedly possessed murderous boyfriend, and that James Wan is a great horror director (note, we’re learning the last part again because this is the first Conjure up Film not directed by James Wan). In the absence of the same horrors and tensions as its two direct predecessors and more than a few spin-offs in the franchise, this third entry is a slightly entertaining but ultimately disappointing proposition that may be worth checking out on HBO Max . but certainly not the money or the time to see it in theaters.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson repeat their roles as Lorraine and Ed Warren, this time they go Law & Order by attempting to prove that a young man arrested and clearly responsible for the brutal murder of another man was demon-possessed by a witch’s curse. It’s a defense that works well in court so I don’t see a problem here.
The first two The incantation Movies are effectively terrifying movies, arguably two of the best horror movies of the last decade – especially when it comes to mainstream horror. These films, as well as their descendants (like the Annabelle Films), under the direction or guidance of James Wan, came across a seemingly perfect formula: Before you get to the blatant horrors, spend 90 minutes freaking out the audience first. Wa achieved this through slow, steady and always moving cinematography, combined with an effective use of sound and “small” moments that are supposed to induce one’s own mind to produce its own terror. Wan could spend minutes drifting slowly through a house, each camera movement giving way to possible horror, but often not. And that was the trick: every spin could leave you breathless and sweaty, whether or not something happens on the screen.
New director Michael Chaves abandons this perfect formula or just does it poorly. While Chaves may have yet to make another good horror film in his future, it’s somewhat surprising that Warner Bros. Chaves left the reins of its golden horror franchise, as the director’s only other full-length horror film was the terrifying one The curse of La Llorona. The Summoning 3 is a significant step up, but the film doesn’t capture the same atmospheric terror that other films in the franchise emulate, largely because Chaves seems to lack the patience to do what has worked in the past. The incantation: The devil made me do it is not without scary moments, but certainly many of them are missing, and it’s hard to reference a single sequence in the movie that really, effectively gets you to cover your eyes, let alone look at your lap.
The biggest problem can be its history or the presumptuous nature of the story. The Summoning 3 spends too much time running around the Warrens looking for evidence and the living person who seems to be responsible for everything that went wrong. It’s not a bad reorientation for the franchise (compared to another exorcism-centered plot), except that Chaves and his crew lose sight of what really matters: scare the crap of the people who watch the movie. The story takes too much time, leaving much less time for the horror to unfold in the way that fans of The incantation Expect, want and need the universe.
The villain (played by Eugenie Bondurant) could have been a menacing force by the way, but is just a poorly developed woman with a severe case of RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and a desire for curses. Terror is one thing she doesn’t instill, albeit through no fault of the actress who plays it.
The film also has just a few logical gaps too many – like the friend mentioned above who suddenly hangs out in a maximum security prison overnight – that point to cut corners and script errors that were not dealt with before production began.
Not a total waste The incantation: The devil made me do it is a significant decrease compared to its predecessors in terms of quality, intelligence and, above all, horror. The devil says don’t waste your time.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise stated.