SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. If you haven’t seen the film yet, read on at your own risk!
In The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren are featured on a whole new kind of mission. While the first two Conjuring movies are essentially haunted house stories, the latest sequel is more focused on being akin to a procedural investigation (albeit while still very much a horror movie). A man named Arne Johnson is arrested after murdering his landlord, but he claims that he was possessed by a demon when the crime was committed, and so the Warrens go on the hunt to find the person who is truly responsible.
So what happens? Who is the person who unleashed the evil with which the Warrens have to contend? Well, now that The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is out, we figured we would put together this feature not only addressing those questions, but also revealing the major ways that the film changed during post-production. Let’s dig in, starting with a recap of events as they play out at the end of the movie:
What Happens At The End Of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
The beginning of the end in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is after Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) leaves to go further consult with Father Kastner (John Noble) about the investigation. Thinking about the evidence that’s been uncovered, with a particular focus on details like the presence of water and train tracks, Ed (Patrick Wilson) comes to a realization and quickly rushes out the door – calling for Drew (Shannon Kook) to phone the police and forgetting to bring his heart medication.
At Father Kastner’s house, Lorraine begins to understand what has separately dawned on her husband, as the former exorcist explains that he raised a daughter in secret and failed in his attempts to hold her curiosity about his work at bay. Isla a.k.a. The Occultist (Eugenie Bondurant) has been operating in the tunnels beneath the property, and she has made a deal with a demon to sacrifice three souls: The Child a.k.a. Jessica Louise Strong (Ingrid Bisu); The Lover a.k.a. Arne (Ruairi O’Connor); and the Man of God a.k.a. Ed.
Meanwhile, Arne is in prison with his wife-to-be, Debbie Glatzel (Sarah Catherine Hook), and the prison chaplain, Father Newman (Vince Pisani), and he begins to feel the presence of the demon once again. A fight for his soul ensues parallel to the Warrens getting to the end of their investigation.
Lorraine heads back down to Father Kastner’s basement with the intention of destroying Isla’s alter, but things start to get tense and dangerous when the antagonist arrives and murders her father. When Ed arrives, Isla once again attempts to use him as a puppet to kill Lorraine, but she is able to help him break the influence by reminding him of their love. Rather than killing his wife, Ed smashes the alter and in doing so prevents Isla from completing her sinister bargain. As a result, the unnamed demon snaps her neck and she falls over dead. Meanwhile, Debbie successfully stops Arne from killing himself with a shard of glass.
Outside, Ed deals with heavy heart palpitations and it seems like he could be ready for another bout of cardiac arrest – but Lorraine opens up her locket and gives him a pill to take.
At the very end of the film, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It performs a dovetail with reality – with Arne Johnson found guilty of manslaughter. Ed adds a bowl from Isla’s alter to the artifact room, and he then reveals to his wife that he has built them a gazebo in their backyard, reminiscent of the one they fell in love in on their first date.
Who Is Responsible For Arne Johnson's Possession?
When all is said and done, the target of the investigation performed by Ed and Lorraine Warren is Isla Kastner, the secret daughter of Father Kastner, and seemingly a follower of the Cult Of The Ram (the satanic organization first introduced in the Annabelle movies). The elder Kastner investigated the cult for years – which is why the Warrens were initially put in contact with him – but his work sadly had a devastating effect on his child.
While her exact motives aren’t clear beyond just fealty to a deity, Isla curses multiple people in service to the demon she worships. She does so using witches totems, influencing Jessica Louise Strong to stab Katie Lincoln (Andrea Andrade) and Arne to murder his landlord (Ronnie Gene Blevins). She makes multiple attempts to try and get Ed Warren to kill Lorraine, but she underestimates the power of their bond.
How The Ending Of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It Changed During Post-Production
While The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It doesn’t quite answer how Arne Johnson’s defense manages to argue a murder charge and the death penalty down to manslaughter and ultimately five years served (an aspect of the movie I address heavily in my review), it does still provide a firm and tight conclusion to the central mystery. That in mind, it may surprise you to learn that the ending of the film changed quite considerably during post-production – with a focus on emphasizing the presence of one character, and by extension erasing a more specific demonic presence.
Prior to the release of The Conjuring 3, I had the opportunity to talk with Michael Chaves during the film’s virtual press day, and our conversation ultimately centered mostly on how the movie’s ending was altered via reshoots. Having previously learned about one character’s role being expanded in the movie, I asked the filmmaker if he could identify who it was, and he explained that it was John Noble’s Kastner. Said Chaves,
Yeah, it was John Noble, and it's funny. I don't know why I was so cagey before. I think it was maybe because you hadn't seen it. He always had an important role; when we went back for additional photography we just wanted more of it. He is so awesome, and it was something that even when we came back with what we had, I think everyone agreed we could watch two more hours of just John Noble. He is so entrancing and I've always been a fan of his, but I think that he's gotten even better and better and it was honestly the greatest thrill to have him in my movie.
Clearly the filmmakers were excited to have John Noble have a greater presence in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, but making the decision to feature more of his character meant that there was a need to cut and alter other material. As it turned out, the material that was deemed expendable was about the demon with which Isla communicates.
Explaining the decision (while also being careful about not giving away too many details), Michael Chaves noted that one aspect of the sequel that made the idea exciting is the fact that The Devil Made Me Do It is a different kind of movie than The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. While there is still a visit to the artifact room at the end, not having a named evil like Bathsheba or Valek makes the conclusion feel special. Chaves noted,
We had a more significant demonic presence that definitely got minimized. And part of that was this is a different movie than the previous Conjurings. The whole aim of it is to surprise people, and it's to take the Warrens and the franchise in a new direction. By doing that... We all had a plan with how it was going to go, and I think part of it, it just couldn't quite fit in one movie. And we had a more classic demon that played a bigger part – that became kind of at odds with our other antagonists, our real adversary of the film.
Arguably even more important than standing out in the Conjuring Universe was also just ensuring that The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was telling a cogent and understandable story. The director continued,
It just became something that got a little over complicated. And I think that, especially when you're getting into a mystery where you need to have confusion and then you need it needs to filter down to a very clear answer, clear resolution, the demon was working against us. So he had to be exercised.
You can watch Michael Chaves discuss how The Conjuring 3 changed during post-production by clicking play on the video below!
Should The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It be deemed successful, there’s every possibility that we will continue to see even more big screen adventures with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga’s Ed and Lorraine Warren – and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that’s the case. The new movie is now playing in theaters, and for a limited 31 day engagement timed to the big screen release The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is streaming on HBO Max.
To check out all of the other movies set to come out between now and the end of December, head on over to our 2021 Movie Premiere Schedule.