'The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It' Featurette: The Warrens Leave Haunted Houses Behind to Investigate a Murder

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is going to change the established Conjuring formula. While the first two main Conjuring films had paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren dealing with haunted houses, this third film takes the Warrens on the road as they investigate the circumstances surrounding a murder. It’s inspired by the true story of Arne Johnson, who was the first murder suspect in U.S. history to claim demonic possession as a defense at trial. A new The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It featurette has producer James Wan, director Michael Chaves, and stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson talking about the big changes in store for the Warrens.

The Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It Featurette

As this featurette begins, James Wan, who directed the first two Conjuring movies and helped come up with the story for this new one, reveals that on the set of The Conjuring 2, he took stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson aside and told them he already had an idea for the third movie. As Wan tells it, he told Farmiga and Wilson that The Conjuring 3 was going to be a detective story.

This is a change of pace for the franchise. While mystery is built into the series, the first two main Conjuring movies are primarily haunted house stories. But The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is taking the Warrens out of the haunted house and dropping them into the middle of a murder mystery. Well, maybe murder mystery isn’t the right term, because the killer is known from the get-go. At the start of the latest sequel, Arne Johnson (played by Ruairi O’Connor) is present during the exorcism of his girlfriend’s little brother, David. During the course of the exorcism, Arne instructs the demon possessing David to take him instead. The demon complies – and weeks later, Arne stabs his landlord to death. But Arne insists he was possessed when he committed the murder, and the Warrens – who were also at the exorcism – are inclined to believe him. Thus the stage is set for the Warrens to dig into Arne’s claims and try to help prove he was truly possessed.

All of this happened, too. Well…sort of. The real Arne Johnson really did stab his landlord, Alan Bono, to death. And when Johnson went on trial his lawyers actually used demonic possession as a defense. Whether or not you want to believe in possession is up to you, of course. For what it’s worth, while the aspect of mining a real-life murder for horror movie thrills may seem a tad tasteless, The Devil Made Me Do It heavily fictionalizes things. When I asked director Michael Chaves about the potential issues of this, he gave me a detailed, thoughtful answer. You can read the whole reply here, but here’s an excerpt:

“When I got that script and I started reading it for the first time, as elated and out-of-my-mind-excited [as I was] to do this movie, I was also conflicted by the fact that there’s a real victim in this. There’s a man who lost his life and we’re not even telling [the story] from that point of view. We’re telling it from the point of view of the man who claimed to be possessed, the man who took his life – the murderer. And from the very beginning, I was like, ‘I hope I get this right. And I hope I tell that story fairly.’”

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It opens in theaters and drops on HBO Max on June 4.

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