"Thrills, with Strong Christian Content, But Extreme Caution"
What You Need To Know:
THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is a scary but absorbing, suspenseful and well-produced thrill ride. The performances are excellent. The movie has a very strong Christian, moral worldview. There is prayer, including a recitation of the Lord’s prayer, and biblical citations. In addition, the love between the two Christian occult experts helps save the day. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution, however, because of scary, bloody violence, foul language, and occult content in THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT.
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is an R-rated horror, mystery movie about to Catholic demonologists helping a young man in Connecticut who’s suffering under a demonic curse from a Satanist hiding out in a secret lair. Loosely based on a real but controversial case, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is intense, well-acted and filled with jeopardy, with overt Christian prayers and Christian opposition against demonic forces, but it has plenty of creepy and scary moments, some bloody violence and foul language, and strong occult content that warrant extreme caution.
The movie’s weird subtitle, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, is based on the sensational way the local and national press characterized the controversial 1981 case. In the case, the young man, Arne (“Arnie”) Johnson, murders another man in a sudden fit of rage, but two Roman Catholic alleged experts in the occult, Ed and Lorraine Warren, convince Arne’s defense lawyer that Arne was under the spell of demonic possession when he committed the crime. They say Arne came under the spell when he and they were helping the family of Arne’s girlfriend, Debbie, stop a demonic attack on Debbie’s 8-year-old brother, David. At one point during various attempted exorcisms of the boy, Arne challenged the demon to leave David and come into him.
Some days later, after a lunch at a local establishment, Arne and Debbie were partying with their landlord, who also owned the dog kennel where Debbie worked. With them were a 15-year-old girl named Wanda, Wanda’s 13-year-old sister and 9-year-old cousin, who had watched Debbie groom a large French poodle at the kennel earlier in the day. According to official and some
press reports, Arne and the landlord drank a little too much and started arguing with one another. Debbie urged everyone to go downstairs, but the landlord tried to force the 9-year-old girl to stay. Arne had returned at this point and, after the landlord released the little girl, suddenly attacked the landlord with a knife Arne was known to carry. Wanda later said she heard Arne growl, and Debbie testified Arne had been possessed by the demon that earlier had possessed her brother. Arne’s defense attorney tried to use that demon possession in a Not Guilty plea, planning to call the Warrens to the witness stand, Debbie and her family to the witness stand, and subpoena several priests involved in the case of Debbie’s brother. However, the judge wouldn’t allow such a defense, and the intense media interest in Arne’s case totally dissipated. The jury ultimately convicted Arne of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced him to 10-15 years, but Arne was let out five years later for good behavior. Arne, Debbie, the defense attorney, and the Warrens still maintained that Arne was possessed well after his release (Ed Warren died in 2006 and Lorraine Warren died in 2019).
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT takes this case and changes some of the details (the young boy, for example, gained a lot of weight before and during the alleged demonic attacks, and the young man’s real girlfriend was older than he was by several years). The movie also embellishes the story with heightened demonic scares. Furthermore, it adds a plot about a secret, powerful Satanist who’s placed a curse on the young boy and Arnie using a scary-looking witchcraft totem. In the movie, the Warrens try to locate the Satanist villain and destroy the villain’s secret Satanic altar to break the curse. Eventually, [SPOILERS FOLLOW] the Warrens must battle the villain while the villain uses demonic powers to force Arne to commit suicide while he’s in a prison hospital under suicide watch.
THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is a scary but absorbing, suspenseful and well-produced thrill ride. The performances are excellent, especially by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warrens and John Noble as a retired priest whom the Warrens consult. The movie links Arne Johnson’s case to a nearby double homicide of two teenage girls, committed by the Satanist who had also placed a demonic curse on them. So, the movie is as much a mystery as it is a supernatural horror movie.
THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT has a very strong Christian, biblical, moral worldview. In addition to trying to stop the demonic powers conjured by the Satanist villain, the lead characters pray, cite Scripture, call in a church exorcist, consult a retired priest, and get help from a prison chaplain who recites the Lord’s Prayer during a climactic demonic attack and who gives Arnie a bottle of holy water to stop demonic attacks trying to force him to commit suicide. Ultimately, the Warrens rely on the redemptive power of their love to help them defeat the Satanist. In fact, [SPOILERS FOLLOW] in a crucial moment, Mrs. Warren says the Satanist villain thinks the love she shares with her husband is a weakness, but she says the villain is wrong. “Our love is our strength,” Lorraine tells her husband, Ed.
However, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution because of many creepy, scary moments, some bloody violence and foul language, and strong occult content in THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT. For example, the two Catholic, self-professed occult experts seem to accept some occult beliefs and apply some occult or non-religious methods in their fight against the Satanist villain and the villain’s Satanic curses. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Thus, decide they
must eventually physically destroy the Satanist’s altar to break the Satanist’s demonic curse. Also, the wife is something of a psychic clairvoyant. Finally, they believe Satan will take the villain’s soul if the villain’s curse fails to kill the young boy or the sister’s boyfriend. In reality, some skeptics of the Warrens, the Catholic occult experts, believe the Warrens are well-meaning but ultimately deceptive. Also, the real-life Warrens apparently believed in occult explanations for ghosts and other theologically aberrant ideas (this movie doesn’t refer to these issues).