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'The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It' heads to the '80s in what James Wan calls ‘a natural progression’
The first two installments of The Conjuring franchise took place in the '70s, and demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) certainly dressed the part. In the upcoming The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, however, the Warrens are now fighting evil in the '80s, a decade that IPs like Stranger Things have made an integral part of their watching experience.
The '80s pastiche is more subtle in The Devil Made Me Do It than it is in Stranger Things. But James Wan, director of the first two Conjuring films, admitted during a recent press event attended by SYFY WIRE that he and some of the cast were excited about shooting in '80s at least as far back as 2016's The Conjuring 2. “I remember going to Patrick and Vera: ‘You know what you guys? The next one has to be the '80s,’” Wan recalled. “And I remember Vera first said to me, ‘Yes, I want big earrings!’”
Eighties attire aside, Wan went on to share how the transition to the new decade made sense for The Devil Made Me Do It. "It just felt like the natural progression because we had spent a lot of time in the '70s,” he said. “Ed and Lorraine Warren, their cases and their career went from the '60s, '70s, '80s, and into the '90s. It just felt like the natural progression for us…we’ve exhausted the '70s look, and the '80s was the natural way to go.”
The Devil Made Me Do It is also inspired by the real-life murder case where Arne Johnson (played by Ruairi O'Connor in the movie) killed his landlord and pleaded not guilty because he claimed he was possessed by a demon. Those events took place in the early 1980s, so it made sense to have the movie take place then as well.
The decade change is also another marker that makes this Conjuring movie different than the two before it. “The idea of going into a new decade is almost like you're turning a page into a new chapter,” The Devil Made Me Do It director Michael Chaves said at the press conference. “We’re opening new doors in the franchise with the Conjuring and just exploring different things.”
One of the new things Chaves explores in The Devil Made Me Do It is how the Warrens started to team up with law enforcement. “Lorraine during the '80s would work with detectives and police departments,” he explained. “That was something that we haven't been able to explore before … people forget, but there were actually a lot of psychics and clairvoyants working with police departments, so much so that the Department of Justice actually issued a handbook in 1989 because so many departments were working with psychics.”
As for future potential Conjuring films, there’s still a lot of the '80s left for us to spend time with the Warrens. “This is the dawn of the Satanic Panic,” Chaves said. “I think there was a lot of cool textural things that play a backdrop in this movie, and it's fodder for something that could be explored in future cases.”
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It premieres June 4 in theaters and on HBO Max.