I was all set to let CONJURING 3 be the first movie I went to see in an actual movie theater post-pandemic but then I saw it was on HBO. In a last minute decision, I instead decided to see A QUIET PLACE 2 in the theater and then watched CONJURING 3 on my computer with headphones on. This turned out to be the right decision for sure; AQP2 is the type of flick that works great with an audience (albeit a small one) and CONJURING 3 has an uncharacteristic television procedural vibe (even though it wisely stays clear of boring courtroom scenes). There’s much to love about this latest installment in the franchise but every bit of that love is probably thanks to the remarkable chemistry between Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren. The film, as a whole, comes off a bit meandering with what feels like almost an active aversion to scares beyond the typical.
I was very excited to learn that this series was to take on the famous “innocent by reason of possession” case that took place in Brookfield, Connecticut; a town that my family moved into a couple years after the incident (I wrote about this previously in a review for the TV movie THE DEMON MURDER CASE (1983) which is based on the same incidents HERE). For the most part, this movie that was filmed in Georgia does an alright job of replicating the small town I know. The sad thing is that somewhere along the line, someone decided to scrape off some of the scariest parts of the tale and replace them with a rather mundane witch’s curse story. Replacing the horrific demon(s) described in the original story with a waterbed and a gaunt scolding librarian type doesn’t seem like the best of plans to me. Come to think of it though, director Michael Chaves did the same kind of careless bastardization of a legend that didn’t need fixing in his previous flick THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019), another passable spook show generously lifted up by the superior acting of its central character(s).
Truth is I’d follow Wilson & Farmiga as the highly idealized, insanely romanticized and unquestionable glamorized versions of the mostly problematic ghostbusters Ed & Lorraine Warren anywhere. This outing that I wrongly assumed I’d feel particularly connected to is the least successful in the horror department but does add something worthy in the area of our understanding of these now beloved (by me at least) characters. It’s kind of hilarious to think of the real Lorraine Warren hanging off a cliff in Connecticut, Indiana Jones-style but avoiding anything resembling reality is exactly what I go to the movies for. CONJURING 3 is not on the level as the previous two films directed by James Wan but it’s still a bit better than most horror flicks that come down the pike. In this case though, instead of thanking the writer or director, you really have to thank the two impeccable leads. Sure, I was underwhelmed overall but how bad can a movie be when my first thought after seeing it is that I can’t wait to visit these characters again?