Like its predecessors, the third cinematic outing of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, is inspired by real-life events, and an audio recording of one of them plays over the film’s credits.
The film was based on the true story of Arne Johnson, who in 1981 was put on trial for murdering his landlord and became the first defendant in US history to claim demonic possession as mitigating circumstances for his innocence. Instead of being a courtroom drama with the already compelling hook of one way or another making legal history, it sees the investigator spouses delve into the history of the entity in question and how it can ultimately be banished.
As the movie’s credits play a recording of the exorcism of Arne’s younger brother David is heard, events that form the film’s intense opening scene. Of course, what’s heard doesn’t tie exactly in to what’s seen on screen, but if anything it sounds like even more of a sinister experience.
Like the rest of the film (as well as the other two) the dramatization greatly exaggerates the significance the Warrens played in proceedings, seeing them oversee the exorcism and trying to compel the demon to leave, while the audio makes it clear that in reality David’s parents played a far more active role in demanding the entity release their son. Other touches, such as David’s body being unnaturally contorted and physically burned by holy water and Arne offering himself to be possessed to save his little brother were likely the imaginations of the filmmakers.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the weakest of the successful franchise’s three mainline movies, finding little new to say on its subjects and badly missing the claustrophobic intensity of its predecessors. However, the reality of its instigating events, even merely in audio form, is an experience worth listening to just by itself.