The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It Review

Horror films are something that either appeal or they don’t. Some people absolutely love them, others see no reason as to why you would want to pay for a ticket to be scared, but personal pretense aside the newest release in The Conjuring series ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is a bit all over the place. Revolving once again around the protagonists and notorious ‘demonologists’ Ed and Lorraine Warren the two are once again faced with yet another strange demon story and yet another demonic force to face off against, the result is what can really only be described as a disappointingly mediocre entry to a legendary series .

It’s hard to sit on either side of the fence as far as The Conjuring 3 goes, there are some great parts but also some truly destructive ones that take away from the experience as a whole, with the added unfortunate overwhelming amount of cliché that tends to plague so much of this genre in the modern day.

The film is based on the true story surrounding the events of Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson in 1981 in which Arne was said to be ‘possessed by the devil’ when he murdered his then landlord, his defence henceforth claiming that he did not hold personal responsibility for the crime. It was said that Arne had become possessed by the demon during the exorcism of then 11 year old David Glatzel whom under Ed and Lorraine’s watch had been exorcised as a last-effort move from the family whom had supposedly witnessed increasingly and continuous concerning behavior from the young boy. The exorcism was recounted as a violent, disturbing event during which time Arne, whom was present as Debbie Glatzel’s partner demanded that the demon ‘take him instead’. Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed it was then that the demon exited David Glatzel and entered Arne Johnson, later bringing him to murder his landlord Alan Bono, stabbing him over 20 times with a pocket knife.

This was the first unlawful killing in the history of Brookfield, Connecticut and ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ follows the story of Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to discover the source of the demonic behavior that allegedly led to the possession of Arne Johnson.

Before anything is said about the plotline or creative direction of this misguided piece of work it would only be fair to recognize the cast for doing the best they could with what they had. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have well and truly proven themselves in the horror genre and despite a less-than-great film still hold a very good standard of individual work. After all these years their chemistry on screen is something to be regarded very highly for any future endeavors. Ruairi O’Connor as well was fantastic in his depiction and arguably the best on-screen as he played the mentally wayward and demonically possessed Arne Johnson, he was able to perfectly depict down to the constant shifting of the eyes exactly what you’d imagine someone possessed by demons would look like. Sarah Catherine Hook and Julian Hilliard also deserve considerable applause for their work depicting the Glatzels.

But unfortunately the cast can only do so much, and even with a proven level of quality in your people ‘The Conjuring 3’ isn’t able to back it up with the same quality of writing or creative direction. Turns of plot that have no real depth, little character development outside of Arne-Johnson and a strange overarching agenda all of which leading to a long, drawn out climax lead the film off the path of success and away from it’s roots which had proven so prolific in the past.

That being said, the set pieces of this film are fantastic, the continued creativity of the scene work and the big-budget effects coupled with impressive camera shots make for a visually impressive and undoubtable eye-pleasing viewing. Scenes such as that with the waterbed or the (albeit cliché) proceeding terrifying scene in the bathroom when David Glatzel faces the demons that have grasped onto his consciousness make for a film that still keeps a viewer on the edge of their seat here and there, but doesn’t quite live up to the bone-chilling quality of its predecessors.

Period accurate and extravagant set design aside, a mismanaged pace of plotline and wayward choice of direction seem to slow ‘The Conjuring 3’ down past the point of necessity and become destructive to its success. Switching with no real grace between several convoluted plotlines the film seems to disregard the terrifying simplicity that had made the previous entries into this series such powerful works. Various scenes feel unnecessary and whilst expansive set work is nice here and there it should never become center-stage to the plotline. You can’t help but feel disappointed by the lack of creativity as far as actual horror goes for a series that had done so well in the past to capture the essence of what made human beings crumble.

Unfortunately, perhaps the most redeeming factor of ‘The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It’ is the intrigue in the fact that the events depicted (regardless of the actual truth of that depiction) are based off real-life events, something that has impressively never previously played so much of a redeeming role in the series. ‘The Conjuring 3’ seems to have lost sight of what made the previous films so successful and attempts to push the confusingly positive agenda that the case of Arne Johnson was one that deserved sympathy. Occasional comedic relief is well timed and overall the piece still holds a respectable level of terrifying suspense, however it can be said without a doubt that the latest release in ‘The Conjuring’ series is by far its weakest.

5/10

The Pursuit of Happyness: A Triumph of Human Nature That Lacks The Final Blow…

The Pursuit of Happyness is one of the most quoted films ever made, you see it all the time plastered all over the internet. Chris Gardner standing against the fence telling his son “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it.“. One of the most recognised and mainstream biopics ever made the film is made so much more powerful by the fact that it is based off the true story of now globally recognised American businessman Christopher Gardner. But that isn’t to say the film doesn’t have it’s ups and downs.

The film follows the story of Chris Gardner whom goes through the ‘stages’ of his life over the course of the entire movie and in many ways this foundation sets a strong pace that leads The Pursuit of Happyness to be neither to fast or two slow and rather somewhere in the middle ground exactly where a piece like this needs to be. The audience experiences the harsh reality of a man whom is so powerfully devoted to himself, his family and to the seeking of ‘Happyness’ but at the same time comes up against the strain of a bad investment made in his naïve youth.

Chris battles a broken relationship, financial instability, homelessness and mental torture all whilst trying to do right by his son. In an attempt to escape the mundane difficulties of staying put Chris puts everything on the line to become a stock broker on Wall Street leading him to lose his relationship, his home and himself for much of the film.

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The casting work of The Pursuit of Happyness has to be applauded, a young Jaden Smith puts in a top performance as ‘Christopher’ the son of his same named father Will Smith (Who could’ve guessed the family relatives would have great on screen chemistry). This is certainly one of Will Smith’s best and most substantial works and his effort portraying Chris Gardner is not to be understated either. You’ll very quickly take a strong attachment to Chris and his Son which is obviously partly due to the writing but in many ways equally so the top performances in those main roles. Thandie Newton as ‘Linda’ also gives a really emotionally charged performance that adds to volatility of the scenes in which herself and Will Smith interact, particularly as the film progresses.

The character arks and plotline (Although based off a true story) were also extremely well done. No character of importance was left without significant development with some powerful moments packed in between. Although it has to be said that the end of the film whilst putting a nice tie on things felt somewhat rushed and cut short, giving the audience a sense of finality but not so much the satisfaction that the events previous really merited. Chris seems to go through such an immense journey of highs and lows, rushing through the experiences most have in a lifetime in such a short amount of time just to end it all with some fist bumps and the deeming of the final stage of his life as ‘Happiness’. Whilst this does the job it perhaps doesn’t quite hit the mark perfectly.

With that being said The Pursuit of Happyness delves into some pretty intense and profound themes and ideas and does so in a clever, witty and enthralling way throughout most of its journey. Various scenes here and there probably weren’t necessary but the concept of the Rubix Cube (And the scene in the Taxi), the word happiness being spelt ‘Happyness’ on the outside of Chris’ son’s daycare and a lot of the advice that Chris gives to his son being really advice to himself were all catalysts for success in battling the life story of Chris Gardner in a creatively impressive way.

The life lessons were always going to be the focal point of a film like this and what The Pursuit of Happyness does right that so many other films like it don’t is that it does not preach, choosing to show rather than tell and avoiding cliques (not entirely but mostly) to get it’s point across not just about happiness, but really the nature of being human as a whole also.

The Pursuit of Happyness is a powerful and witty biopic that takes the example of Chris Gardner to delve into some of the harshest faucets of life that some may choose to ignore. Excellently casted and written The Pursuit of Happyness rarely gives you reason to take your eyes off the screen, boasting well rounded character arks and impressively compacted messages. An emotional rollercoaster The Pursuit of Happyness falls short in its ending but it’s successes make it nonetheless a fantastic watch.

8/10

‘Swiss Army Man’ Risk-taking and astoundingly unorthodox yet strangely good…

Now, before anything is said about Daniel Kwan and Dan Scheinert’s ‘Swiss Army Man’ this is without doubt one of the strangest film’s I have ever come across in my entire lifetime of watching movies, which is quite the achievement. So with this in mind I can only come to the conclusion that this one will completely divide opinion between ‘Weird Genius’ and ‘What did I just watch’. Just thought I’d mention that.

Released back in 2016 ‘Swiss Army Man’ follows an inherently bizzare let alone unsettling premise and theme which does absolutely everything in its power to completely derail any idea that a proceeding a chain of events leading to a logical conclusion was to follow. Which, to some may prove to be just too much but in many ways it also felt like a breath of fresh air to watch a film in which for the most part, you grasp its core premise yet have quite literally no idea what is going to occur in the next scene. It is absolutely impossible to categorize the experience of this film and in a sense that’s why its such a rewarding one.

Let me just set the scene as to educate you on exactly why this is the case. The film opens by showing it’s protagonist Hank attempting to commit suicide after being clearly stranded on a deserted island, however in the process he notices the body of Daniel Radcliffe, the dead but flatulent body mind you. He then proceeds to mount the body and use the mans farts in a glorious gassy miracle to ride back towards land. Yes, you read that correctly. Once reaching mainland Hank and his now sidekick dead body whom he names Manny embark on a journey through the wilderness to reach society.

Now whilst that may seem like a complete trainwreck of a film the direction taken on this one is yes without doubt risky, however with strong lead performances from both Danielle Radcliffe, whom once again proves his value outside of his infamous role as Harry Potter coupled with Paul Dano in a role that completely changes the usual protagonist into a completely new acting job entirely, there are a lot of good things to be said about ‘Swiss Army Man’. Without doubt the fully committed performances from both leads is why this film is able to achieve its goal with a far more unsettling and profound response from any viewer. Not to mention the fact that Danielle Radcliffe performed nearly all of his own scenes in the mud and on the ground playing a literal dead body.

‘Swiss Army Man’ doesn’t make major usage of setting or impressive visual effects but instead opts for a far more primal feel to evoke response from audiences, whether that be shock, laughter or discomfort and in many cases all of the above. For the type of film ‘Swiss Army Man’ attempts to be it can’t deemed a creative failure and you just absolutely have to hand it to Radcliffe and Dano for their willingness to do whatever it takes for their art, although by the same token it is understandable why some may find this one a tad too far.

However well this film does in it’s mission to both entertain and unsettle, there definitely are moments when surely even the most intrigued and appreciative viewers would find unnecessary and hindering to the experience, something which was inevitably going to happen when pushing the line of what is and isn’t too much.

Some scenes feel somewhat dragged out and perhaps could’ve been wrapped up far quicker and allowed more time for other events to occur. The jokes of the film do also feel old after a certain point and whilst the piece in a general sense definitely does grow on you there may be points particularly through its duller mid-section where you may wish things progressed a bit faster. Although that being said with a strong (but highly confusing) ending that in some ways makes up for previous shortfalls ‘Swiss Army Man’ may just grow on you and will definitely remain in your head for quite a while.

There are very few films which completely revoke the ability for a viewer to class it into any genre, but that is exactly what ‘Swiss Army Man’ is so unbelievably successful in doing via it’s risk-taking and original methods that never fail to provoke almost every emotion there is to muster. Through committed and impressive performances in the lead roles batted with a surprisingly depth-filled plotline upon further thought, this is without doubt one of the most peculiar films going around, but perhaps that is its genius. Although smartly written ‘Swiss Army Man’ at times falls short of the mark but it’s intriguing outside-of-the-box approach has to be respected.

7/10

The Mandalorian is a start, but ‘Obi-Wan’ can breathe life back into Star Wars…

With the recent hit ‘The Mandalorian’ proving there is still so much creative potential left in Star Wars, diehard fans and casual watchers alike have plenty to look forward to with the return of both Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor coming to fruition for the development of the new ‘Obi-Wan’ series set to start filming early into the new year.

There are so many reasons why this is such a big deal for both the Star Wars franchise as well as its fans…

A chance to bring back the classic lightsaber duels which brought the franchise global fans in the beginning.

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‘Obi-Wan’ has a fantastic opportunity given its throw-backish nature to bring about the return of some lightsaber usage and duels that diehard star wars fans haven’t seen for years. Before the modern era of films Star Wars had a quality plotline which was backed up by some jaw-droppingly intense and impressive lightsaber duels that put people in seats time and time again all around the world.

This isn’t to say that the modern film don’t have the same level of creative integrity, which is debatable but a separate issue. It just means that as a star wars fan you’ve surely have missed some of the classic duels that made the franchise what it was, and that is exactly what this new Kenobi series can bring you if given the right creative pushes from Disney and the cast.

The opportunity for the resurfacing of beloved characters from times gone by.

With the series supposedly exploring in more depth the character ark of Kenobi there surely is room for some fan pleasing moments with the return of iconic characters such as Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Commander Cody and even the potential entering of Ahsoka Tano.

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Obviously there can be no expectations as to which characters we may see pop up along the timeline of the new series but without doubt fans should hope to see at least a few along the journey, something which could bring back the spark from older viewers returning to see characters that made their childhood. The return of older characters and concepts also gives the new generation of star wars watchers the chance for a taster of why the serious is still so popular so many years after its initial release.

A potential landmark in the future of the franchise and it’s direction with both films and series works.

Finally, whilst we know so little about how the series will turn out we can only hope that it will serve as a creative landmark for disney as they tackle how to push the franchise forward going into the future. Following the success of Disney’s ‘The Mandalorian’ series there has been a standard undoubtedly set for Star Wars fans who want to see like it both in the form of series work and films going into the future.

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There really is so much to look forward to with the upcoming filming of ‘Obi-Wan’ and without doubt Star Wars fans should feel in safe hands with the return of franchise legends who surely will do nothing but good for what stands as one of the most passionately followed stories of all time…