Vital Thrills recently got a chance to participate in the press day for New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. The film is the highly-anticipated sequel to The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016).
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It reveals a chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The movie opens in theaters and IMAX nationwide on June 4, 2021 and will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.
One of the most sensational cases from their files, the movie 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.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return to star as Lorraine and Ed Warren, under the direction of Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona). The film also stars Ruairi O’Connor (The Spanish Princess), Sarah Catherine Hook (Monsterland) and Julian Hilliard (Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, The Haunting of Hill House).
Director Michael Chaves spoke about the new story and upping the ante. “I think it was something from the very beginning… I spoke with James, I spoke with Peter and the studio and I think that, for any franchise to seem fresh or be fresh, there needs to be invention and reinvention and we wanted to tell a contrarian story but in a way that we haven’t seen before. In a lot of ways, [this is] more a supernatural thriller. You know, we’re taking the Warrens on the road… [it’s one of] their darkest cases… it’s one of their most controversial cases and I think the whole thing is just so fascinating.”
James Wan spoke about the choice of Chaves as a director for the next chapter in the story of the Warrens. “Michael and I had worked together on La Llorona, and I saw Mike was filmmaking on that film, and saw how much he grew through the course of that film… we knew we wanted a filmmaker that has a vision to take it in a new direction, but yet really respect what we had created.”
Patrick Wilson said of Chaves, “I think that’s spot on… It’s a tough requirement because you want someone to have their own vision and put their own stamp on it but in a selfless act, meaning you don’t want a director to come in there and say, ‘I’m gonna do – it’s so different because it needs to be different, I want to be different.'”
He continued, “That’s not how Michael operates. I think what the beauty of it was not that these words were said, but that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the franchise tremendous amount of respect for what you guys have done because of the way, this story is so different, and it really lends itself to more of a thriller aspect with of course the horror being the overwhelming theme, but it is.
“It took it into a new place, so of course I have a new director and a new vision… honestly, because it all gets so dark in these films you want someone that is going to lean into the love is/love wins in these movies, and lean into the positivity and I think that’s something that actually is – dark as his film gets there’s a whole other lightness to it… I think that this is truly a love story. I don’t even see it as a horror film, I love their, their love story and how real that seems on screen.”
Vera Farmiga agreed. “For me, it is more of a love story that it is a horror story,and that’s what makes it so unique and successful. And that’s why I enjoy coming back, I think, that message of love, not only Warren’s for each other but for the work that they do. And for the people that they help you know that selflessness, that compassion, that embodiment of love is really really something holy and special, you know, that makes it that makes it digestible.”
Ruairi O’Connor, who plays Arne, spoke about playing a possessed person. “I mean it was it was a huge challenge for me because I’m very scientifically minded and very cynical. I remember talking to Vera on set a lot and she has this really kind of warm openness to [the fact that] there may be being some kind of paranormal or something beyond, just as kind of playful with it.
“And we’ll be talking about little spooky things that happened throughout the filming of Conjuring. The other films as well. And I was just wishing that I would get some kind of spooky event that would just, like, bag me into it but unfortunately it didn’t, so I worked with my acting coach a lot to dredge up, personally, and stuff… but then when I watched the film… I was like a 14-year-old kid watching a movie I shouldn’t be watching.
“It was just a horror film and all of that kind of boring actor work that I put into it. I couldn’t see the mechanics of, I got to enjoy it like the audience and pry my girlfriend’s hands away from her face. [She] was forced to watch it Clockwork Orange-style.”
The film opens with an exorcism and Chaves spoke about belief and skepticism of such things. “The emotional truth is, you know, our movie opens with this exorcism, we have a recording of it that actually, that ends the movie, plays over the end credits, and that recording is… maybe you’re a total skeptic. Maybe you don’t believe in demons or God or any of that.
“But you can’t listen to that tape and say that something powerful was not going on there. You can’t listen to it and not connect to the emotion in that – connect to the real terror that that family was going through. And so I think that with all of these things – I was raised Catholic, I’m always a skeptic, but always someone who wants to believe.
“And so I always go back and forth… James always talks about finding the emotion and really delivering the emotion. If I was gonna say a secret to his success and the success of his franchises is…it’s in really anchoring it in sheer powerful emotion. I mean I can say back to the exorcism, there’s a lot of interviews and now there’s a lot of people [who] describe David Gladstone [the subject of the real exorcism] was levitating off that table, and that’s a very powerful image.
“I mean, that’s a very specific example of something that we’ve seen that a lot of times… I think that it was something where we actually deviated because we wanted to do something that was more unnerving and something that we haven’t seen before. So even like there’s a lot of really powerful accounts that we weren’t fictionalizing, we just chose to kind of go into a different direction, because, like Peter said, we’re making a movie.”
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It was produced by James Wan and Peter Safran, who have collaborated on all the Conjuring Universe films. Chaves directed from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (The Conjuring 2, Aquaman).
The story was by James Wan & David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, based on characters created by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes.
Serving as executive producers were Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Michael Clear, Judson Scott and Michelle Morrissey.
Jenna Busch has written and spoken about movies, TV, video games and comics all over the Internet for over 15 years, co-hosted a series with Stan Lee, appeared on multiple episodes of “Tabletop,” written comic books, and is a contributing author for the 13 books in the “PsychGeeks” series including “Star Wars Psychology.” She founded the site Legion of Leia and hosted the “Legion” podcast.