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Hollywood blockbusters return to the big screen in Phuket this week as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It finally makes its way to the big screen. While eagle-eyed horror fans will notice that creator James Wan might not be in the director’s chair this time around this could well be the best film in the trilogy so far.

While Wan has allowed the previous two films to centre on the supernatural director Michael Chaves (The Curse Of La Llorona) gives The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It a more realistic feel as he manages to mix the horror side of the story with a more everyday crime-thriller feel.

The film centres around one of the most publicised cases that supernatural investigators Lorraine (Vera Farmiga – The Departed) and Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson – Watchmen) were ever involved with. That case was the murder trial involving Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor – Teen Spirit) who seemingly killed his girlfriend, Debbie Glatzel’s (Sarah Catherine Hook – Monsterland), boss in cold blood for absolutely no reason.

However, when the case reached court Lorraine and Ed defended Arne by presenting evidence that showed that he had become possessed by a demon when he had helped them with the exorcism of Debbie’s younger brother David (Julian Hilliard – Wandavision).

It is the crime-thriller element of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It which makes it better than its predecessors. Michel Chaves is well supported by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s (Aquaman) screenplay. That script allows the film to move away from the ‘things-that-go-bump-in-the-middle-of-the-night’ aspect that the first two films had. Instead the film takes on a more C.S.I. meets The X-Files vibe as Ed and Lorraine are forced to team up with a police officer, Sergeant Clay (Keith Arthur Bolden – Cobra Kai), who is a sceptic who doesn’t believe in the work that they do.

The other elements that make the script so powerful is the fact that the original exorcism in the film leaves Ed Warren partially incapacitated. That means that the ‘super-hero’ vibe that is around both Ed and Lorraine in the previous films is completely removed this time, that not only gives the film a more realistic feel but also builds the suspense as a character that fans of the franchise have come to know and love has their life placed in danger.

Perhaps the most powerful element of the film though is the fact that it asks a moralistic question that makes the audience stop and think. If a the court and the judicial system rests so heavily on the laws of the Bible then should they not also take into account what the same book says about evil… yes no other Conjuring movie has ever made us think about a question like that.

The realism of the film also adds to the acting performances. Patrick Wilson rises to the occasion as he plays the vulnerable Ed Warren and in turn that leads to a stronger performance by Vera Farmiga because this time her character has to take more of a lead when it comes to the investigation.

The two leads are also well supported by Sarah Catherine Hook and Ruairi O’Connor who are both brilliant in their roles. O’Connor’s possession scenes are truly amazing while Hook portrays the emotionally downtrodden Debbie sensationally well. When you watch the film you can tell that Hook is one of the best young actresses going around at the moment… she is certainly going to make a name for herself in Hollywood.

It is rare that the third film in a franchise is one of the best. Typically with horror franchises it is normally downhill after film number one but the realism that Michael Chaves brings to The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It creates a suspense that is similar to its ‘half-sister’ film Annabelle Creation. This film is a must for lovers of The Conjuring universe.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is now showing in Phuket cinemas.

4/5 Stars