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The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is based on first murder case to argue demonic possession as an alibi
The third Conjuring movie — The Devil Made Me Do It — like the two before it, is inspired by one of the cases handled by real-life demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Unlike the two movies before it, however, the case for The Devil Made Me Do It involved an actual murder, and was the first case in U.S. history where demonic possession was argued as an alibi. The film also differs from its predecessors in that the Warrens, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, go on the road to give the movie a procedural vibe.
Curious what that may look like? This clip released by HBO Max this week will give you a taste:
The real-life and Conjuring versions of the story both focus on Arne Johnson. Johnson was Debbie Getzel’s boyfriend, and the two were present for what they believed to be her brother’s exorcism (performed by the Warrens). During the exorcism, they claimed that the demon jumped from Getzel’s little brother and into Johnson. Flash forward a few days, and Johnson ended up fatally stabbing Getzel’s boss. During the trial, Johnson's lawyer tried to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of demonic possession.
You can hear the real-life Getzel (now Debbie Johnson — the couple eventually married) describe what she remembers happening in the featurette below:
Johnson’s not-guilty-by-reason-of-possession plea didn’t fly in real life or in the movie, and he spent five years in prison for the murder. The case, however, was one of the real-life Warrens' most memorable ones, and it was one that executive producer and director of the first two Conjuring films, James Wan, had wanted to do since at least Conjuring 2.
Wan, Patrick, Farmiga, and others share more about the inspiration for The Devil Made Me Do It in another featurette, which you can check out here:
“The court accepts the existence of God every time a witness swears to tell the truth,” Wilson says as Ed Warren in the above featurette. “I think it’s about time they accept the existence of the devil.”
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It premieres June 4 in theaters and on HBO Max.