The newest instalment of the “Conjuring” franchise, aka “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”, is based on the true story of Arne Cheyenne Johnson and how Ed and Lorraine Warren helped him claim he had been possessed.
The possession began with David Glatzel, the 11- year-old brother of Arne’s girlfriend, Debbie. During his exorcism the demon then entered Arne, leaving David. This was in the winter of 1981. The family brought in famous demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren to help with their plight. After the demon entered Arne he ended up killing a man, and the Warren’s came to his defence.
Below I point to 10 things that the film either got wrong, fabricated or took artistic license on.
10. The circumstances of the murder
In the film Arne kills Alan Bono, his landlord, while Arne is lying on the floor, having run away from Alan. This happens after Arne, his girlfriend and Alan had been dancing together. Alan appears to him as a demon and he kills him in “defence”. However, in the actual case the murder happened during a heated discussion and no one was (as far as I can tell) lying on the floor.
9. Arne’s car crash
Unmentioned in the movie, Arne was actually in a car crash, apparently caused by the demon. Luckily, he was unharmed. It was this incident that lead him to investigate the Glatzel’s property further and ultimately become properly possessed.
8. The demon “possessed” Arne down a well
According to Johnson, he visited the Glatzel’s property and examined an old well that housed the demon. The demon looked into his eyes and after this he became fully possessed. In the film this incident doesn’t happen and Arne is possessed during the exorcism.
7. Mary, Debbie’s cousin
In the movie, only Arne, Alan and Debbie are present when the murder takes place. However, according to accounts, Mary (Debbie’s 9 year old cousin) and another girl were also there. Bono actually seized Mary at one point, surely creating an agitated situation that may have caused the heated discussion mentioned in no. 10.
6. The pocket knife
In the movie Arne kills Alan with a sharp implement from the floor of the kennel, making the idea that it was a spontaneous frenzy more solid. In real life he pulled out a pocket knife that he already had on his person.
5. Arne’s location
After the murder Arne walks off in a trance. In the film he is found just outside of the property, house still in the background of the shot. In reality he was found 2 miles from the scene of the murder. Had he really walked that far in a state of shock, or was he running away?
4. Arne’s lawyer
In the movie, Arne’s attorney is a woman, when in fact, he was represented by Martin Minnella, a man. I don’t know why the film decided to change this, the actress who did play his lawyer was great, but didn’t play a major role.
3. The judge didn’t allow the defence
Arne’s lawyer did attempt to plead not guilty by reason of demonic possession, but the judge didn’t allow it. Instead the defence plead self-defence and the jury weren’t allowed to consider demonic possession. In the film we don’t get to see the trial (to my disappointment) but it’s not clear that the judge didn’t allow the original defence.
2. The Glatzel brothers sue
After the incident a book called The Devil in Connecticut (1983) was published, written by Gerald Brittle, with the assistance of Lorraine Warren. The Glatzel family claimed that the Warrens had made up the whole possession story and sued the authors. They said that the Warrens had told them the story would make them rich and get Arne out of jail. Carl Jr, one of the Glatzel brothers, even started writing his own version of events, stating that David was not possessed. Arne and Debbie, however, supported the Warren’s version of events.
1. Ed and Lorraine are kind of the worst
Most people know by now that Ed and Lorraine weren’t the sympathetic people they are made out to be in the films – but please do remind yourself that this isn’t the only family who may have fell for one of their schemes and (wether or not you believe in demons) the actual couple had some demons of their own. Most people now also believe that their most famous case, The Amityville Horror, was faked. Don’t be pulled in by the actors, Ed and Lorraine were not good people, and in my opinion, should probably have not been portrayed in the films. “Based on” may have been better, but hey-ho, I did go and see it.
Speaking of which, I give the new instalment a 2/5. Definitely the weakest of the franchise so far.