Demon On Trial?

Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return for another go-around with demonic evil in The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It. Horror maestro James Wan doesn’t return behind the camera for this sequel to his gigantic horror hits, handing directorial duties over to Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona). Disappointing but not unexpected for a franchise that has now churned out eight loosely related installments.

The Warrens this time tangle with a Satanic cult and help a young man on trial for murder. It’s a chilling tale of possession, told with the usual flair and spine-chilling atmosphere which has made the franchise one of Hollywood’s most reliable properties. One big reason why the Conjuring films have become popular is they approach their supernatural terrors with an unironic sensibility, rare in today’s post-modern horror from Hollywood. The movies never mock the material from which they spring.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a harrowing thriller with haunting visual effects and compelling mystery as only Hollywood can imagine

Based on the somewhat true story of the first murder trail in which a defendant used the legal defense he was demonically possessed during the crime, this third entry in the franchise strays with some success away from the original Conjuring’s established formula. The center of the movie still revolves around paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It addresses the deadly consequences of a failed exorcism.

More than ever, Vera Farmiga is the star that steals the spotlight. Her portrayal of the psychically gifted Lorraine Warren carries a screenplay that is tense but often slow between the knock-out set pieces which litter the film. That’s not diminishing Patrick Wilson, who has been along for this ride from the very beginning. His Ed Warren is sidelined from some of the action and Lorraine picks up the slack.

The lead stars get a huge assist from John Noble. The elderly character actor plays a retired priest who fits perfectly into the story. Noble should have been appearing in horror movies years ago. It may be the best supporting performance we’ve gotten from the Conjuring movies.

The movie begins with an exorcism gone wrong. A desperately reckless young man invites a demon into his body who’s been tormenting a young boy. That trick seems to work in the heat of the moment but has terrible consequences for the man. He ultimately ends up on trial for murder and the Warrens have to help prove he was possessed during the crime. Their investigation leads to much darker forces afoot and a new enemy they’ve never encountered before.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a harrowing thriller with haunting visual effects and compelling mystery as only Hollywood can imagine. Some may quibble with its tweaks to the tried and true formula from the first two Conjuring movies, introducing an unspeakably evil human antagonist into the mix. For my money, the first two films became a little predictable despite their slightly more effective and intimidating frights. This is a smarter movie while delving into the Warrens’ early backstory, fleshing the couple out as they battle the forces of darkness.

I don’t believe this third Conjuring film is a classic in the genre but it delivers everything horror fans want from the franchise. The jump scares could be scarier but its final act blows out the candles with gusto. Director Michael Chaves doesn’t have the same feel and mastery of jump scares which Wan has so often demonstrated. While most franchises would have already fallen apart into mediocrity eight movies deep, this sequel only whets my appetite for more adventures following Ed and Lorraine Warren.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It 4K UHD screen shot

Video

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It was finished at 2K resolution, likely because the copious visual effects and CGI which make so much of the film’s monstrous effects possible are usually in 2K themselves. The original digital film capture was at 2.8K using various Arri Alexa cameras. That means the 2160p presentation found on this 4K UHD is upscaled from the 2K source. There is no higher quality master for this movie. The digital cinematography exudes razor-sharp definition and gorgeous depth in the 2.39:1 composition. Easily the most advanced video quality we’ve gotten from the franchise.

There are small but meaningful improvements in picture quality over Blu-ray, mostly thanks to a superb color grading which really shines in HDR10. The filmmakers have chosen a wide but tasteful palette highlighting the excellent chroma resolution of UHD without delving into brilliant highlights and glowing hues.

This is a fairly typical UHD authoring job by WB with maximum luminance mastered at 4000 nits and minimum luminance at .005 nits. Black levels are absolutely stunning. It’s a master class with careful shadow delineation and deeply inky blacks. The priest’s dark basement carefully reveals a menagerie of occult objects as the camera pans around the room. For a dim movie often filmed in darkened interiors, detail is pristine and refined.

Exteriors have that remarkable sepia glow which is a hallmark of the Conjuring films. Primary colors are a touch muted but clarity is always nearly overwhelming. The HEVC encode is fully transparent – good luck finding anything but immaculate compression during the nearly two-hour film.

While a notch below the format’s absolute best, The Conjuring 3’s video quality is nigh unassailable by videophiles.

Audio

The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is simply one of the best and most aggressive surround experiences on the format. As good as the video for this UHD looks, the audio is better. This is reference audio with swirling immersion and pounding thump when needed. It’s a state-of-the-art, object-based design which needs to be heard in a good home theater. Dialogue reproduction is impeccable, often an issue in these massively dynamic soundtracks.

The horrifying atmosphere is filled with discrete activity which will make your skin crawl. The opening exorcism has a flurry of sounds moving up, down and above, while several latter set pieces layer the soundstage even more effectively. Folks, The Conjuring 3 is fantastic demo material with several choice scenes you can use to impress friends and visitors.

Optional subtitles play inside the scope presentation in a white font at all times. There are a plethora of foreign subtitle and dub options. This is a disc authored for nearly worldwide release with numerous choices.

Extras

The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It is all by itself on UHD from the Conjuring franchise if you don’t count The Nun. Courtesy of the folks from WB, the UHD combo package includes all special features listed below on the included BD. Per their usual practices, no special features are found on the UHD.

The 4K UHD release comes with a Movies Anywhere digital code which redeems in UHD quality on MA providers. Also inside is a code good for a 30-day free trial to DC Universe Infinite’s digital reading service.

Initial pressings arrive with a cardboard slipcover. North American retailers skipped a SteelBook release but UK retailer HMV put out a 4K UHD SteelBook if you are so inclined.

There’s a non-zero chance that down the road WB decides to package the three Conjuring movies together in a spiffy UHD package. Outside of the comic book, this is a fairly perfunctory assortment of EPK bonus features.

DC Horror Presents: The Conjuring: The Lover #1 Digital Comic Book (12:50 in HD)

By Reason of Demonic Possession Featurette (05:24 in HD)

The Occultist Featurette (04:03 in HD)

Exorcism of Fear Featurette (05:47 in HD)

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The third installment in the Conjuring franchise explores what happens when an exorcism goes wrong in chilling terror. A new twist on old friends Ed and Lorraine Warren that should entertain the fans and have them excited for more.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 59 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: