“This court accepts the existence of God every time a witness swears to tell the truth,” Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) says early on in this trailer. “I think it’s about time they accept the existence of the devil.”
That’s business as usual for this horror franchise, which sets itself apart from other supernatural fright fests by taking the spiritual world with a surprising amount of seriousness. The Conjuring is loosely based off the, uh, stated experiences of Ed and Lorraine Warren, real-life paranormal investigators who have certainly claimed to have some interesting experiences. That movie was a huge hit and spawned a lucrative franchise with varying degrees of quality, but all of them have shared a spiritual worldview grounded in historic Church teaching. In the Conjuring-verse, demons are real (and real scary), but they’re not all-powerful.
In this case, the Warrens were involved in the trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson for the murder of his landlord, Alan Bono. It was the first time a defendant had claimed innocence based on demon possession. In that case, the Warrens were called into assist with the exorcism of an 11-year-old boy. Multiple witnesses claimed that after a days-long exorcism, a demon fled the boy and took up residence in Johnson, who would go on to murder Bono several months later. Johnson claimed the literal devil made him do it, which became the case’s nickname in media reports and provides this movie with its subtitle. These movies tend to lean heavily into the “loosely” part of “loosely based on historical events,” but the food for thought can be intriguing. If nothing else, looks like this movie plans to do for waterbeds what Psycho did for showers.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is headed to HBO Max on June 4.