The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is in cinemas now and streaming on HBO Max. The latest installment in the franchise changes the formula a bit, becoming a sort of procedural in which Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a creepy X-Files-type mystery. If you’ve watched The Devil Made Me Do It and are looking for similar horror films that aren’t part of the original Conjuring franchise, I’m here to help. Here are five horror movies to look at after The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and where to watch them streaming.
The Mothman Prophecies.
Like The Devil Made Me Do It, The Mothman Prophecies is also “based on a true story”. Richard Gere plays a Washington Post widowed columnist who somehow finds himself in a small West Virginia town where a mysterious entity known as the Mothman is observed. The appearance of the Mothman heralds a tragedy to come, and Gere’s reporter tries to figure out what it is before anyone gets hurt. Or is he losing his mind and still grieving the sudden loss for his wife (Debra Messing)? The answer may surprise you! Or maybe he won’t!
The Exorcist III
The sequels to “The Exorcist” are considered inferior, and for the most part, this is true. But there is one major exception, The Exorcist III. While The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It begins with an exorcism, the film progresses to a sort of procedural mystery with horror elements. The same is true of The Exorcist III, which is a direct sequel to the first and stars George C. Scott as Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, the policeman who had a brief but crucial supporting role in The Exorcist. Fifteen years have gone by since the events of The Exorcist, and Kinderman is haunted by his memories. Kinderman is in the middle of a murder investigation where the killer seems to be tracing the actions of an executed serial killer known as Gemini. To complicate matters further, a patient is found in the psych ward by Kinderman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Damien Karras (Jason Miller), the priest from the first film. Damien Karras, of course, is supposed to have died after falling down the famous stairs. The Exorcist III is scary, scary, and much better than it has any right to be. It may not be as good as the original film, but it’s very close.
Released in 2000, The Gift looks like the Sam Raimi film that time forgot. This is strange, because the film is quite fantastic, with a great cast and a script written by Billy Bob Thornton. Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, Hilary Swank, Katie Holmes, and Greg Kinnear star in this Southern Gothic film, in which Blanchett plays a local fortune teller. When the fiancée (Holmes) of the headmaster of the local school (Kinnear) disappears, the fortune teller (Blanchett) has a vision of her murder. This sets off a mystery in which everyone in town seems to be a suspect. This is one of Raimi’s more restrained films – don’t expect Evil Dead shenanigans – but that doesn’t make it less effective. Bonus: Keanu Reeves plays a racist, violent redneck, and he’s really good in the role, which is quite disturbing.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
When I heard that The Devil Made Me Do It was based on the Arne Johnson trial – in which a man murdered his landlord and claimed to be possessed by demons at the time of the crime – I thought the film would be a courtroom drama with horror elements. But the trial plays a minimal role in the film – it’s only there to set the Warrens in motion. If you also thought we’d get more thrills in the courtroom, there’s one film that can give you that: Scott Derrickson’s “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. Also based on a true story, it follows a priest charged with murder. The priest ( Tom Wilkinson) performs an exorcism on a student, Emily Rose ( Jennifer Carpenter, who is terrific here), and it goes so badly that Emily dies during the procedure. The priest’s skeptical lawyer, played by Laura Linney, has to defend her client without believing in the demonic possession – but this belief is quickly challenged by the gruesome details of the case.
Another killer horror film, Angel Heart is a dark, disturbing horror noir film with a great twist. Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, a 1950s private eye who is hired to find a missing singer. Harry’s client is the mysterious Louis Cyphre, unforgettably played by Robert De Niro, with his long fingernails and icy demeanor. Angel’s investigation takes him to New Orleans, and it seems that everyone he questions has a bad habit of coming to a bloody and untimely end. Even though we know where it’s going, Angel Heart is an excellent film, atmospheric and full of disturbing images.