The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It ***
Horror. With Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Ruairi O’Connor. Director: Michael Chaves.
The third film in the Conjuring series sees the return of Farmiga and Wilson as real-life paranormal sleuths Lorraine and Ed Warren. This time they investigate the case of a young man (O’Connor) who’s using the “devil made me do it” as a defence in his murder trial.
It’s based on an actual 1981 case (the real-life accused was – spoiler – convicted of manslaughter and jailed) but the filmmakers don’t let the facts get in the way of a ripping yarn involving occultists, dark magic and demonic possession.
Like the earlier Conjuring movies and their many spinoffs such as Annabelle (2013), The Nun (2018) and The Curse of La Llorona (2019) – which was also directed by Chaves – this film might not be the best or spookiest the genre has to offer, but it’s always watchable.
Maybe it’s the fact they’re all period movies set between the ’40s and ’80s, and deal with unironic supernatural strangeness rather than serial killers, slashers or global pandemics that makes them more enjoyable, like a pair of spooky old slippers.
– DENNIS CAVERNELIS
2021. 111 MIN. 16HV. AVAILABLE ON DSTV BOX OFFICE, GOOGLE PLAY AND APPLE TV+.
Someone Great *** 1/2
Romantic comedy. Aspiring music journalist Jenny (Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez) has landed her dream job at an iconic magazine and must move to San Francisco.
Her boyfriend of nine years (LaKeith Stanfield from Judas and the Black Messiah) decides to call it quits rather than have a long-distance relationship. After the devastating break-up, Jenny and her best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow from Pitch Perfect), decide to have one last adventure together in New York.
Women’s voices and experiences are central in writer-director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s debut film and fans of offbeat movies such as 2017’s The Incredible Jessica James (also on Netflix) should enjoy it.
Rodriguez’s performance is at times frantic, and the “last night in NYC” plot is contrived, but thanks to its comedic and unpredictable framework, Someone Great provides a healthier portrayal of a break-up than most romcoms, which makes it a breath of fresh air.
The movie convincingly portrays what it’s like to let go of a big love: the deep-seated loss of familiarity and companionship mixed with moments of excitement and the anticipation of having space for something new.
Someone Great is a heartfelt film that succeeds in depicting the pain of letting go, the importance of friendships and the transition into adulthood.
– CAMILLA THOROGOOD
2019. 92 MIN. 16LD. AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.
Boss Level ***
Sci-fi action. The “stuck-in-a-time loop” story has been told in many different forms over the years, yet Boss Level manages to set itself apart with hilarious action sequences and over-the-top fun.
Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy) plays the cocky but likeable Roy Pulver whose world is turned upside down when he realises he’s living the same day over and over.
After struggling for ages, Frank is about to give up trying to get out of his Groundhog Day situation when some new information sets him on a path to not just save the day but also get his act together.
Grillo tackles the role with gusto, showing off his great comedic timing as well as that he can carry a film as the lead. The movie co-stars Michelle Yeoh, Naomi Watts and Mel Gibson, who plays megalomaniac baddie Colonel Clive Ventor with such relish you might think he was playing himself . . .
Unfortunately Boss Level falls short of making a lasting impression. It’s a tongue-in-cheek thrill ride you’ll enjoy once, but probably soon forget.
– DEWALD POTGIETER
2021. 100 MIN. 16DLV. AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY AND APPLE TV+.
A: All ages D: Drugs H: Horror L: Language N: Nudity P: Prejudice PG: Parental guidance S: Sex V: Violence