in the The incantation: The devil made me do it – the third Conjure up Movie and the seventh in an ongoing horror franchise – we’re back to the Warrens. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga take on their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren, real paranormal investigators, and this time investigating the case of the “possessed” eight-year-old boy David Glatzel.
Part of the appeal of the Conjure up Films are their claim that they are based on “true stories” and add an element of potential plausibility to otherwise incredible stories. While the films themselves often have their own tangents, it definitely helps the popularity of the franchise to turn the base, as shaky as it may be, into reality.
The Warrens were present with a priest at the Glatzel exorcism that took place in the family home on July 18, 1981. Young David’s teenage sister and boyfriend Arne Johnson also attended the ritual. When it happened, or so the story went, Johnson told the “demon” in David to take him instead, and that’s exactly what happens. The demon leaves the boy and inhabits Johnson, which leads to a much more dangerous result. (No more spoilers from here!)
So is it more of a teen horror than a child horror?
Somehow. It is almost as if two, sometimes three films are shown at the same time, which could explain the somewhat too long running time (almost two hours). One focus is on Johnson and his adjustment to ownership, one on the Warrens trying to solve the problem, and the other delving deep into the demon and the how, why and when. Actually there are maybe four as we also learn about the history of the Warrens and how they first met and fell in love. Oddly enough, this horror movie about demon possession has a lot to say about love.
The devil made me do it starts with a few scenes that are reminiscent of The exorcist, including all the disgust you remember: a distorted body, a deep demon voice, foam at the mouth. We spend enough time with David to be scared before it goes to Johnson. In a larger, stronger body, the demon is more powerful and the chaos escalates.
How scary is it?
Ah, the most important horror question. For people familiar with the franchise, I would say it is on par with its predecessors. For those who have never seen a Conjure up Film is horror on a PG level. Enough to jolt you in your seat but not enough to make you cry / throw up. This third part in particular has a lot of jumping horror, several of which surprised me. There is absolute silence for a long time and the camera often pans into the darkness, so the thing that jumps at you is shocking and scary at the same time.
The story itself, while based on actual events, is quite weak and almost ridiculous at times. But we’re not really here for the story, are we? At least there are enough twists and turns to surprise you. There is also a certain type of home furniture that you may never look at in the same way again: be warned!
Something special for Conjure up Fans?
Aside from a bunch of Easter eggs dotted around the film – not to mention clever cinematography and winking shots – there are a few innuendos Conjure up Fans. The fearsome Annabelle doll is mentioned at one point (a treat for fans of the franchise), and the ending follows with the previous two Conjure up Movies.
Stick to the credits as the film broadcasts a supposedly real live recording of the David Glatzel exorcism that was recorded by the Warrens. Chill if that’s true.
So what’s the bottom line?
Filled to the brim with dark pictures and all the horror tropes that one could wish for, The incantation: The devil made me do it is your typical summer horror tariff. Fans should be satisfied despite the running time and newcomers should be entertained. The live recording at the end ensures the creepy cherry on your ice cream sundae and leaves you unsettled enough just when you go to bed.
“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” is available to rent in cinemas (where open), IMAX and nationwide from June 4, 2021. Please check local listings for full details.