On HBO Max, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It streams in 4k with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos audio. These home video formats are only available on 4k TVs, 4k HDR TVs, or devices that support 4k and/or HDR. Dolby Atmos, an immersive object-based audio format, is only available on audio systems that support it.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It provides a great home theater experience on HBO Max (while also earning $24M at the domestic box office opening weekend). The film is the seventh title in the ‘Conjuring’ franchise when you include The Nun and ‘Annabelle’ movies.
The suspenseful thriller stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as Ed and Lorraine Warren – the paranormal investigating couple who begin the film with an attempt to save a boy (David Glatzel played by Julian Hilliard) from being possessed by a demonic force. The title of the film takes its name from the early 80s legal case often referred to as “The devil made me do it,” the defense Arne Johnson used to explain why he commited murder.
The audio in the opening scene of ‘The Devil Made Me Do It” is incredibly realistic, with a wide dynamic range of sound effects and earthquake-level effects that may have you jumping from your couch. On the softer side at 36:06 when Lorraine is crawling through the basement of the “haunted” house you can hear the subtle crunches of old plastic and mice scattering about.
Similar ambient noises can be heard at 54:50 when a creepy hand is wrapping around a tree where Lorraine reimagines the site of a murder. The audio wraps around the surround sound space, immersing you in the moment with her. This moment, and others like it, really make use of multiple speaker systems. The surround effects also sound great with headphones.
The music by Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, and ‘Conjuring’ spinoffs), is suspenseful but not omnipresent as other soundtrack music compositions may be. There is a lot of silence in this movie, adding to the suspense and build up of the story arc. The mix of music, dialogue, dramatic effects, and ambient sound effects offers a good home theater experience especially if outside noises (like dishes clanking, kids yelling, etc.) are reduced.
As far as video, ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ is shot in 2.39:1 aspect ratio, so on a 16×9 screen there should be black bars on the top and bottom of your screen. The image could be enlarged and cropped in your TV settings, but seeing as this is a horror film with widescreen intention we suggest watching in its native 2.39:1 format.
The movie was filmed in ARRIRAW format at 2.8K so we’re assuming the digital intermediate is the same with upscaling happening for the digital video and cinematic copies. Regardless, the image is fairly sharp streaming in 4k. The color palette and color depth improvements may be more significant than resolution as Dolby Vision can expand output on HDR-compatible screens.
To view this movie as close as possible to a traditional movie theater we suggest a few things. First, turn off the “soap opera” look that is caused by high frame rate smoothing. Here is what to look for:
Samsung TVs: Turn off LED Clear Motion.
LG TVs: Disable TruMotion.
Sony TVs: Disable MotionFlow.
Vizio: Smooth Motion Effect
TCL: Turn off Action Smoothing.
Second, set your picture settings to Cinema, Film, or Native. This will reduce the color saturation and brightness so the image is more like a theater setting. You may also dim or turn off the lights around the TV area. This will allow your eyes to adjust to the darker setting and the TV image will actually seem a little brighter. Since this movie is a thriller/horror film, the imagery is much darker overall than a comedy or action film would be.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a bit cookie-cutter at times, but delivers what the audience wants when it needs to. The movie is based on the true story of the exorcism of David Glatzel in 1981, and the supposed transfer of the demon to Arne Johnson who eventually kills his landlord. Wilson and Farmiga are solid in their roles as the real life paranormal investigators who sought to prove Johnson’s innocence claiming that he was possessed.
The boy David (Julian Hilliard) plays such as critical role in the beginning of the movie, but eventually fades away completely from the story. It would have been nice to see him return as a hero or resurge in some other form instead of just about disappearing.
Instead, an only somewhat interesting character Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) leads the parallel story line that ends as one might expect. Though Johnson’s crime provides a reason why the Warrens stay after the “successful” exorcism, his succumb to the demon is less interesting than the Warrens finding the source. Sadly, young David is not even mentioned in the ending passages.
You can watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It on HBO Max for only one month through July 4. After that, you will have to either see it in theaters (if still playing) or pay to rent it through digital movie providers.