Directed by Michael Chaves, The Conjuring 3 follows Ed and Lorraine Warren on their next paranormal case, to defend a murder suspect pleading demonic possession.
I really like the first two Conjuring movies and I might be in the minority to feel that they’re equally good. James Wan strikes a great balance between blockbuster and subtle horror, considering his roots are from SAW. Not being the director for the third film was of great concern and rightly so. His absence leaves us with a film that feels wildly different from the previous two and is regrettably unfrightening. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson carry the movie on their shoulders and are the sole reason to watch it. Nearly everything else is a sadly disappointing movie, one I was really hoping wouldn’t be so.
See you again
What immediately strikes as a huge difference is the lack of a family to connect to. James Wan made us feel connected to the victims which in turn created tension when they suffered. This time we have a couple as opposed to a family who we meet and say goodbye to as complete strangers. I can’t recall anything about the victim that speaks to me about their personality or what they felt. The lack of character work is a huge overlook and undoubtedly the biggest weakness. And because the Warrens and the victim rarely spend time together, their storylines feel disconnected. I suspected they would bridge that gap with the trial. But from the point they plead not guilty, we don’t see any court proceedings till the final verdict.
The antagonist is much like the previous movies. There’s no real motivation for their actions and we just assume they’re evil. It’s what I’ve come to expect so it’s not a huge bummer. Dialogues are a lot cheesier than I recall from the previous movies and a huge reliance on visual effects is just distracting. Shaky cam and lens distorting is used a lot in moments of panic and flashbacks, with the intent to make it feel disorienting but is just plain distracting.
Too many gimmicks
When the problem isn’t the writing, it’s the execution. Jump scares announce their presence much earlier than expected and overstay their welcome. To be fair, James Wan also had the tendency to occasionally go overboard on his scares with furniture. But that was not without moments like the Hide and Clap sequence or seeing Valek’s painting in the dark. This movie pushes nearly all its scares a little too far, leaving the impression of a gimmick. Contorting bodies and growling voices are just no longer scary for today’s audiences and I expect a lot more from the third installment in a franchise.
It’s still a fairly well-made film with a decent production, editing and not to mention the amazing chemistry of its two leads. But that alone isn’t enough to make it worth recommending and is overall just a disappointment.
The Conjuring 3 is not just disappointing when compared to its previous installments but also to the standard of horror that has been set in the last five years. Its two lead actors can’t save a disjointed story filled with predictable scares and outdated gimmicks.