While this is only the third movie directly titled as a part of The Conjuring franchise, if you count the other films in the connected universe, like Annabelle, The Nun, and The Curse of La Llorona, it is actually the 8th. And with a combined cumulative box office of nearly $2 billion, don’t expect it to be the last. Kicked off by director James Wan’s original film in 2013, the franchise has had it’s share of ups and downs and this one is unfortunately one the weaker entries.
The movie opens on the exorcism of 8-year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard), which is being attended by his family and documented by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). For an opening sequence it’s a real shocker, creating a genuinely frightening level of visceral intensity that the rest of the movie struggles to replicate, and ending with Ed being hospitalized after having a heart attack. The Glatzels begins to move on with their lives as Ed awakens and urges Lorraine to warn the family that they are still in danger, and that the demon is now in older sister Debbie’s (Sarah Catherine Hook) boyfriend Arne (Ruairi O’Connor). Unfortunately the warning is too late, and Arne stabs his landlord to death. It is now up to the Warrens to prove that he was possessed at the time of the murder, while trying to avoid becoming victims of the curse that started the entire chain of events.
Director Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) isn’t able to achieve quite the same level of suspense as James Wan pulled off in the first 2 films. After the intense opening, the film feels more aimless than the others, with only occasional moments of fright and only one sequence that feels truly memorable or inventive, which is of course given away by the trailer. Luckily, Wilson and Farmiga are excellent as always as the Warrens, and help to keep viewers invested in the proceedings. It’s a merely serviceable entry in an otherwise above average horror franchise. ★★★
Rated R for terror, violence, and some disturbing images.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor