The Conjuring is one of the largest horror movie franchises in history and has grossed more than $1.8 billion worldwide. As an avid horror fan, one of my favorite horror franchises is no doubt The Conjuring and I’m looking forward to the release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, the seventh film in The Conjuring Universe.
As part of an exclusive virtual event, I had the opportunity to watch the first 11 minutes of the film. Taking the reins from James Wan — who created and directed the past two Conjuring films and produced this one — is director Michael Chaves. Having previously helmed The Curse of La Llorona, the director is familiar with the Conjuring universe and has all the much-loved horror tricks up his sleeves.
Introducing the footage, Chaves said, “We wanted it to be a departure from the classic Conjuring film. The Conjuring is the greatest horror franchise that there’s ever been. I’m a big fan of it.”
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It tells one of the most sensational cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s the infamous 1981 case of Arne Johnson, a murder suspect who claimed demonic possession as a defense. Returning to reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren are Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.
The film opens with Ed and Lorraine Warren attempting an exorcism on a demon-possessed 11-year-old boy, David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard). We witness a spine-chilling scene as the demon takes over the little boy and causes him to twist his body (seen in the picture below). In that moment, Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor), fiancé to David’s sister, pleads for the life of the boy and offers himself up instead.
Chaves explained: “From the very beginning, from talking to James, we wanted to make something that felt very different and to surprise fans and take the Warrens in a direction they’ve never been before. And the opening shows how serious we are about that and the new direction that it’s going to go.”
He continued: “The big idea with this is that we’ve seen the Warrens exorcise demons a couple times now so I think the natural assumption is you’re going to see a Conjuring movie, you’re going to deal with a demon and by the end of the movie they’re going to exorcise it. We just thought, let’s turn that on its head. Let’s start with the moment you think we’re going to end with. And let’s take the assumption that the Warrens are always right, the Warrens always win and instead turn that on its side. And what happens when they don’t get it right… when it just ends horribly wrong. This exorcism was a real Catholic-approved exorcism the Warrens were a part of. This is the story of Arne Johnson and he’s there in this as he was in real life. The events basically kick off the movie and ripple across our story.”
I love that The Conjuring films are set in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s an era that provided us with many cult classic films. Chaves is well aware of the importance of that era.
He said during the event: “Our culture is so obsessed with that kind of time. Part of it is nostalgia. Part of it is trying to deal with the current times we’re in, and get some escape. The Conjuring movies are a love letter to the horror movies of the past. With the first one there’s so much of The Changeling in it and other classic haunted house movies. With this there’s that nod to The Exorcist, I couldn’t resist that. I had to put that in there. In the trailer, with the waterbed, that’s a nod to A Nightmare on Elm Street. Those homages are part of the DNA of the Conjuring so that retro vibe is really important.”
Chaves worked closely with Wan to make this film special for fans and even though it’s a departure from prior Conjuring films, after having seen the opening scene, I can say that a lot of what we loved is being echoed in this upcoming film.
Speaking on working with Wan, Chaves said: “I’ve been the biggest fan of his. He’s a master of his craft; a master of horror… just an all-around great guy. I’ve learned so much from him, working with him on La Llorona and then into this. I’m proud to consider him my friend.”
The opening scene was based on the real exorcism and towards the end of the event, we got to hear the audio recording from the real exorcism that took place. It’ll be played in the end credits and let me tell you, it’s super creepy. I can’t wait to see how the new film treats fans, but so far, it looks quite promising.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It releases in theaters and is available to rent at home on June 4. ~Marriska Fernandes
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