As horrific and scary as the first two Conjuring movies are, it’s interesting to note that both films lack body counts (not counting the ghosts, of course). They feature characters in hyper distress while dealing with otherworldly evil, but by the time everything is resolved everyone walks away alive and healthy. This, however, will not be the case in the upcoming The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. The paranormal investigation at the center of the upcoming feature specifically concerns a murder – one that the perpetrator says was committed as a result of demonic possession. The story involving a very real crime makes the three-quel stand out compared to its predecessors, and director Michael Chaves makes the argument that it in turn makes it the darkest chapter of the franchise yet.
It’s so dark, in fact, that it raised very real concerns for the filmmaker as he was embarking on the journey making it. I joined a pair of other journalists on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California this past week for a socially distanced interview with Chaves about The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and after getting the chance to preview the opening scene of the movie I asked about his approach to balancing the true story elements and the fantastical. He discussed the fact that the material required a special approach given the victim in the story, saying,
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It centers on the notorious story of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a man who was convicted of killing his landlord in the early 1980s and in court was the first known person in United States history to claim that he was innocent because he was possessed when the murder was committed. At the time, Arne was dating a young woman named Debbie Glatzel, and prior to the crime he was present at an exorcism for Debbie’s brother, David – which is when, he claims, the evil spirit entered his body. Ed and Lorraine Warren were both a part of David’s church-sanctioned demon removal, which is the scene that starts the new movie.
Comparing his version with the true story, Michael Chaves explained,
The new movie marks the fourth time that Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga have played Ed and Lorraine Warren (following The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, and Annabelle Comes Home), and the supporting cast includes Ruairi O'Connor as Arne Johnson, Sarah Catherine Hook as Debbie Glatzel, Julian Hilliard as David Glatzel, and Steve Coulter as Father Gordon (who has been featured in all of the Conjuring Universe movies with the Warrens).
Because the story involves a real life tragedy and someone losing their life, Michael Chaves felt a particular responsibility to respect the reality of the case, while still sculpting it as a fictional version of events and a paranormal horror movie. A certain balance had to be struck, and it was something that the filmmaker worked on with James Wan (who is both producing and co-developed the story) and screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. Said the director,
At the end of the day fans surely won’t be able to take all of the events of the film at face value, and learning the truth about what really happened will require some extracurricular research – but Michael Chaves did tease that the movie’s treatment of the story is something that makes it special and stand out. Discussing the response that versions of The Conjuring 3 have received from test screenings, Chaves said,
Following an unexpectedly long wait, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is now finally on a direct course towards release, and will be out in less than a month. Set to arrive in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously (just like all of the other films on Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate), the latest chapter from the Conjuring Universe will be available for your eyes and ears on June 4.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.