‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ Exorcism Was Even More Extreme In Real Life

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is the third horror movie based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in the movies, The Devil Made Me Do It turns their work with Arne Johnson into a horor movie. Johnson stood trial for murder and they tried to prove he was not guilty by reason of possession. The film opens with an exorcism which is also based on true events. 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It - Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga perform an exorcism
L-R: Patrick Wilson, Julian Hilliard and Vera Farmiga | Warner Bros. Pictures

Michael Chaves directed The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. Chaves spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the film. We’ll have more with him and the cast this week but first, Chaves shared how the real-life exorcism was even more extreme than he portrayed in the film. 

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Johnson was convicted of first degree manslaughter and served five years. The victim in the case was the landlord of a canine boarding house where he lived with his girlfriend, Debbie Glatzel, who worked there. Johnson, played by Ruairi O’Connor in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, claimed that during the exorcism of Debbie’s younger brother, David, the demon entered Johnson’s body. 

The Devil Made Me Do It star Ruairi O'Connor walks down the street
Ruairi O’Connor | Warner Bros. Pictures

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“We actually open with this exorcism of this young child, David Glatzel,” Chaves said. “He was eight years old at the time and we actually have the audio recording of his exorcism. We play it over the end credits. That is true to the real life events. That’s an event which had repercussions. Basically, that was the moment where Arne claimed that this demon was passed into him and the result of that plays out over the rest of the movie.”

The real exorcism was more than ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ could handle

During the exorcism, David twists his whole body around. Chaves said the real exorcism reportedly included levitation, but showing that would have made The Conjuring too similar to The Exorcist.

“There were a lot of people who were witness to the exorcism who claim that David levitated,” Chaves said. “It was one of those creative choices of we’ve seen that levitation a lot in exorcisms. It’s of course  a very powerful and signature idea. Obviously for the people involved, it’s rooted in fact. I think that that was something that for the exorcism, I just wanted to do something different.”

The Conjuring 3 exorcism
Julian Hilliard | Warner Bros. Pictures

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Chaves pays homage to The Exorcist in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. You’ll notice the signature shot of the priest’s arrival at the house. Chaves didn’t want to show another levitation, though.

“We saw it in The Exorcist and my God, I love that movie so much and I do a little homage to it in the very beginning,” Chaves said. “When we actually got into the meat and potatoes of that exorcism, I didn’t want to do anything that was treading on that sacred ground. I didn’t want to just rehash that amazing William Friedkin’s amazing scene. I wanted to do something that was unique to this film. So that’s one of the reasons we didn’t do that.”

‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’ includes the real Glatzel exorcism, too

If you’re skeptical about the Glatzel family and Warrens’ claims of an actual exorcism, you may still be skeptical after The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. However, you can hear the audio recording over the end credits and make up your own mind. 

“You listen to that original recording and it’s really harrowing,” Chaves said. “Because I grew up Catholic and I vary between being a skeptic and a true believer, I always want to believe but I’m always a skeptic at the same time. You listen to the recordings, it’s really harrowing what happened to that family. Just whatever was going on, it plays over the end credits. If you see the movie, for nothing else, watch it for those end credits because they’re incredibly powerful.”