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James Wan confirms which real-life case the Warrens will take on in The Conjuring 3

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Dec 18, 2018, 3:26 PM EST

With The Conjuring 3 now actively in preproduction, the filmmaker behind the franchise has confirmed details of the movie's plot.

Although James Wan has stepped away from directing the next entry in The Conjuring series — he's been a little tied up lately with a small project called Aquaman that you might have heard of — Wan is still very much a producer and creative force on the horror universe that he launched five years ago with the original film.

Speaking with Bloody-Disgusting during an interview for Aquaman, Wan revealed that the story for The Conjuring 3, while not "based on an artifact" like the previous two films, has been drawn once again from the real-life case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played in the films by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.

“It’s this guy who was on trial for committing a murder,” Wan explained. “I think it’s the first time in America’s history where the defendant used possessions as a reason, as an excuse.”

The case that Wan seems to be referring to may be that of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, a 19-year-old Connecticut man who in 1981 was charged with the murder of 40-year-old Alan Bono, Johnson's landlord and the owner of a kennel where Johnson worked.

Prior to that, Johnson had lived with the family of an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly possessed by a demon. Johnson reportedly challenged the demon to leave the boy alone and come into his body, saying, "Take me on. My mind is stronger than his."

The Warrens were involved in the case of the boy, which is how they ended up crossing paths with Johnson. The latter's lawyer at the time, Martin Minnella, said he would present the first demonic possession defense in the history of American jurisprudence, in a trial that would "test the existence of the devil."

We won't delve any further into the trial and its aftermath, to avoid spoilers, although it became quite famous and was known as the "Devil Made Me Do It" case. The case certainly had its share of controversy, and lines up with recent comments from The Conjuring 3 producer Peter Safran that the third installment would take the series in a different direction from the earlier films.

Wan added that it was important for the Conjuring movies, unlike its spinoffs such as the Annabelle series and The Nun, to continue using the Warrens' real case files as source material: "It’s important that the mothership stays true to the inspiration of the real people. The spinoffs are where we get to have more fun and do weird and wonderful crazy things. The mothership of it being the Conjuring films, we want it to come back to the real stuff."

Michael Chaves, who directed the upcoming The Curse of La Llorona for Wan's production company, will direct The Conjuring 3 from a script by David Leslie Johnson. The former film is out April 19, 2019, while cameras are expected to roll on The Conjuring 3 sometime early next year as well.