Unlike almost every other horror franchise that has come out over the past decade, The Conjuring films are strictly speaking, period films. Not as far back as the 1770s mind you, but all of the films up until this point have taken place in the 1970s or even earlier, 2018's spin-off The Nun is the earliest in the timeline, set in 1952. For The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It however, the third mainline film in the series and the latest entry, things jump up to the 1980s. Unlike other films and TV shows set in that decade though, The Conjuring 3 isn't concerned with frolicking in the nostalgia of what movies were playing and what stores could be found at the mall, it's simply the next stop on the journey.
"It felt like the natural progression, because we had spent a lot of time in the ‘70s, and Ed and Lorraine Warren, their cases and their career went from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and into the ‘90s, and it just felt like the natural progression for us to move into, and aesthetically, it just felt like it was the right thing to do," producer James Wan said, recalling the idea first came to them on the set of The Conjuring 2. "We've exhausted the ‘70s look, and the ‘80s was the natural way to go. Sure, now there's a lot of TV shows and movies that are taking place in the ‘80s, but it was naturally where the story and the characters, and just a period of the story of where it wanted to take us."
The '80s setting also came from the larger "real case files" of Ed and Lorraine Warren with the latest film focusing on the real-life case of Arne Johnson, a man who claimed demonic possession as a murder defense.
"We try to figure out the story that we want to tell, and then set it in the appropriate era," franchise producer Peter Safran added. "Because we don't in our films, hit it on the head, what the era is like in the ‘90s, the movies that we did, they were set in the ‘70s. It wasn't the disco ‘70s. The change for Ed and Lorraine between the ‘70s and the ‘80s is not so dramatic for us. For us, it really was just true to the story. I don't think we really were too concerned about what else was going on in terms of film or television creation in that era."
The film's director Michael Chaves also said that by moving in the 1980s they've begun to open new doors for the franchise's future noting that the real Lorraine Warren worked with police departments and investigations due to her perceived abilities as a clairvoyant and medium.
"It was a time that people forget, but there was actually a lot of psychics and clairvoyants working with police departments, so much so that the department of justice actually issued a handbook in 1989, because so many departments were working with psychics," Chaves said. "They were like, we need to actually formalize some working rules of working with psychics. The other thing in the ‘80s is this is the dawn of the satanic panic, and I think there was a lot of cool textural things that it plays a backdrop in this movie, and it’s fodder for something that could be explored in future cases."1comments
You heard the man, future cases are on the horizon.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on June 4.