Like the previous two main Conjuring movies (remember: there’s a big Conjuring universe full of spin-offs, and then there are the main films that focus on the Warrens), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on a true story. But unlike those previous entries, where the true story involved allegedly haunted houses, The Devil Made Me Do It is dealing with a real-life murder case. In the early 1980s, Arne Cheyenne Johnson stabbed his landlord to death and then claimed at trial that he was possessed by demonic forces at the time of the murder.
A new The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It featurette delves into this true story, and even interviews Arne Johnson’s wife Debbie, who was a witness to the murder.
The Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It True Story Featurette
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It will have paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren dealing with their darkest case yet – a case that involves a murder. The film “reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.”
Like the films before it, The Devil Made Me Do It has a “based on a true story” disclaimer – and while Hollywood likes to play fast and loose with that branding, there is truth to what’s going on in the new film. Here’s how the true story goes: the Warrens were involved with an exorcism involving a boy named David Glatzel. Arne Johnson, who was dating David’s sister Debbie at the time, was present at the exorcism, and he (allegedly) demanded the demon possessing David to spare the boy and enter him instead. The demon (again, allegedly) complied. Weeks later, Johnson stabbed his landlord to death. When he went on trial, Johnson and his lawyers actually tried to use demonic possession as part of Johnson’s defense – the first time that ever happened in a U.S. court of law.
Of course, like the previous Conjuring movies, The Devil Made Me Do It takes liberties with the truth and tells a mostly fictional story. But the seed of truth is still buried in there, and this featurette has an interview with the real Debbie – who married Arne Johnson after the murder trial – talking about the experience of both the exorcism and the murder. Whether or not you want to believe the supernatural details of the story is up to you, of course.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It hits theaters and HBO Max on June 4.
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