Michael Chaves says producer James Wan has "some cases up his sleeve."

By Clark Collis
June 02, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT
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THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
| Credit: Warner Bros.

While some movies in The Conjuring universe, like 2018's The Nun, are entirely fictional, others, such as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (out June 4) are inspired by real-life, if often much-disputed, incidents. The movie once again stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and details the couple's involvement in the case of Arne Cheyenne Johnson (Ruairi O'Connor) who claimed he was demonically possessed at the time he fatally stabbed his landlord in 1981.

James Wan, who directed the first two Conjuring movies and produces this threequel, hand-picked filmmaker Michael Chaves to oversee this latest horror movie following his work on 2019's Conjuring universe-adjacent The Curse of La Llorona.

"This was a case that James really wanted to crack into," says Chaves. "For the first few films, it was almost too dark and too controversial. I think at this point both James and the producers and the studio wanted to shake up the franchise and to take it into a new direction and everybody felt like this was the case to do it. This is a case where both the Warrens' beliefs and everything they've worked for is put in the centre stage. It follows the story of Arne Johnson, this man who murdered his landlord and claimed demonic possession, and the Warrens were there through this whole case and they investigated it, they were there even before that with the exorcism of this young boy. The film is filled with surprises. I think from the very beginning it takes turns that you're not expecting and that was always the goal of it."

Below, Chaves talks more about The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and the future of the franchise.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did James Wan give you any advice in the course of the production?

MICHAEL CHAVES: Yeah, a lot of it. My relationship with James started on The Curse of La Llorona. He found me, with New Line, based on this short I did called The Maiden and they hired me for The Curse of La Llorona, which was this movie that they were developing. James is a producer, working with me, and I would consider him a friend and there have been so many insights that he's given. Beyond just the making of the film, he has just a great sensibility for filmmaking and for storytelling. If there's one thing that he's always come back to, that I think is really effective, it's just to always look for the emotion and always go for big emotion, whatever that is. A lot of times, of course, making a horror movie, it's finding the scariest moment, but it extends beyond that. Movies are at their core big emotional experiences and I think that's some of his best guidance and some of the best advice that I've taken into this film.

What was the shoot like?

It was awesome. We shot in Atlanta. It was very hot. Principal photography was during summer and it was just brutally hot. I have to say, working with Patrick and Vera was probably one of the best experiences of my career. They are honestly two of the best human beings that I've met. They're amazing actors, they're amazing people, they have incredible chemistry onscreen. Working with them, every day, it kind of felt like summer camp. They're so interesting. They work very differently. They come at scenes very differently. But they also have tremendous respect for each other, which I think you

Michael Chaves
Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Warner Bros.

Did anything spooky happen during the shoot?

I think the spookiest thing was listening to the real recordings. Our movie opens with this exorcism of this young boy. We actually have the audio recording of it and we play it over the end credits. We had it on set and we played it for everybody. When I first played it [I] just shamelessly wanted to get us in the mood but I think that the gravity of it, even if you're a hardcore sceptic, if you're listening to this audio, I mean you can hear the pain and the horror that's going on in this scene and this little boy's going through. It was really chilling and I think that it brought a certain weight to the scene. I think that everybody felt a responsibility going into it that, whatever word we use to classify it, whatever happened, was very real for those people.

Where now for the Conjuring franchise?

I know James has some cases up his sleeve. I think that there's a lot of things they want to explore. I think this film has shown how diverse the Conjuring films can be and how they are willing to take chances and surprise audiences. I've heard of things they're developing and I'm very excited to see what comes next. I come at this first and foremost as a fan of the franchise and so I'm excited to see what happens.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It costars Sarah Catherine Hook and John Noble. The film hits theaters and HBO Max on June 4. Watch the trailer above.

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