After making his feature directorial debut with The Curse of La Llorona in 2019, Chaves went on to score a significant sophomore film – the third installment of the main series of films in The Conjuring franchise.
In The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Mentions in Spanish: El Conjuro 3 Película Completa) Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) swoop in to help David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) and Arne Johnson (Ruairi OConnor). After exorcising a demon from young David, the entity makes its way into Arne, compelling him to kill. Or so they think, When Arne is arrested for murder, it’s up to Ed and Lorraine to prove his innocence in court by confirming the devil made him do it.
While on The Witching Hour, Chaves detailed his ambitions as a young filmmaker and his journey to The Conjuring 3. But of course, we also had to take it a step further and launch into a spoiler-filled discussion of the new movie. The Devil Made Me Do It is a unique installment of the series. Not only does it do away with the traditional haunted house format in favor of a mystery story, but it also doesn’t feature a supernatural evil entity as the big bad, rather a human antagonist. The guilty party in The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is actually an occultist (Eugenie Bondurant) who uses a witch’s totem to curse Arne.
Not having an evil entity along the lines of Bathsheba and Valak certainly sets The Devil Made Me Do It apart from all other Conjuring films, but during our chat with Chaves, he revealed that actually almost wasn’t the case. While discussing the value of test screenings, Chaves revealed that initially, the plan was to include a traditional demon.
While editing The Conjuring 2, James Wan decided to replace his original horned demon with something that didn’t feel “too out of left-field for the film” and instead felt “more grounded and personal — something that would take Lorraine’s faith and try to test/corrupt it.” During addition photography, Wan and co. replaced that horned demon with the now iconic nun.
How The Conjuring 3s Villain Connects to Annabelle
Early in The Devil Made Me Do It, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) discover a witch’s totem hidden under the Glatzel house and very astutely observe that this creepy-ass thing is probably connected to the demon plaguing the Glatzels and Arne Johnson (who claims that, yes, the devil made him commit a murder, just like his real-life counterpart asserted).
For more information on the totem, the Warrens’ friend Father Gordon points them to John Noble’s Father Kastner, a priest who helped to bring down a cult of Satan worshippers before he retired. That cult is the Disciples of the Ram, which was first mentioned in 2014’s Annabelle.
Who Are the Disciples of the Ram and How Do They Connect to Annabelle?
The Disciples of the Ram are a Satanic cult which, in Father Kastner’s estimation, is devoted to causing chaos and despair through blasphemy and pain. Case in point: the senseless and seemingly random murder of the Higgins family in 2014’s Annabelle, where Mr. and Mrs. Higgins are brutally killed by their estranged daughter Annabelle and her lover. Annabelle: Creation gave this moment some additional background by retconning Annabelle Higgins to be the assumed identity of Janice, an orphan who was possessed by a demon inside the Annabelle doll during an encounter with it at a farm in 1958. After this encounter, Annabelle/Janice escapes the farm, gets adopted by the Higgins family, grows up, loses contact with her adoptive parents, and joins the Disciples… all while still possessed by the Annabelle demon. It’s only when Annabelle/Janice kills herself while holding the doll (which the Form family next door very conveniently and coincidentally just purchased for themselves) that the demon is transferred back into its initial vessel.
News reports at the time of the Higgins murders specify that Annabelle/Janice and her boyfriend were members of a cult, but it’s only later in Annabelle that Mia Form’s research leads her to identify that cult as The Disciples of the Ram. Mia discovers that the Disciples of the Ram work to call forth inhuman spirits into our world, which require a soul to stay on our plane. These inhuman spirits target the weak and defenseless, like children and infants, and that’s a thread that remains relevant all the way into the events of The Devil Made Me Do It.
In The Conjuring 3 (a.k.a. The Devil Made Me Do It), we learn that Father Kastner was responsible for uncovering the Disciples of the Ram and helping to bring them to justice. But they didn’t go down quietly. Kastner tells the Warrens that while the cult was on trial the lead prosecutor’s wife gave birth to a stillborn baby whose heart had grown on the outside of its body.
This horrific tragedy led the prosecutor’s wife to commit suicide by laying down on a train track. As Kastner says, the Satanist’s “sole aim is chaos, its nectar despair.” Kastner, who has an artifact room somehow more unsettling than the Warrens’, surrounds himself in memorabilia related to the Disciples, obsessed with the fallout his unearthing of the Disciples caused. At the time, it seems like it may just be the loss of the prosecutor’s wife and child plaguing the old priest’s conscience, but when Lorraine returns to Kastners house alone later in the film, we learn his guilt hits much closer to home.
The Future of the Conjuring Universe’s Disciples
As of now, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever learn more about the Kastners and their connection to the Disciples of the Ram, seeing as Isla slices her father’s throat and then gets her soul taken by a demon at the end of The Conjuring 3. But what about the Disciples themselves? Was Isla the very last Satanist inspired by their teachings, or was Father Kastner’s victory over the group only partial? A resurfaced cult of chaos-spreading devil-worshippers sounds like they’d leave a big mess in their wake… messes that Ed and Lorraine could investigate over the next few Conjuring movies. The Conjuringverse has always propelled itself forward with already-established lore, so it doesn’t seem like a stretch to imagine the Disciples of the Ram evolving into the series’ shadowy antagonistic group, similar to HYDRA or SPECTRE. Too bad it’s not a cool acronym.
Is Isla Kastner a Disciple?
Father Kastner reveals that he raised a daughter, Isla, in secret on his secluded property. While Kastner was busy taking down the Disciples of the Ram, he failed to see that the isolated Isla was becoming increasingly obsessed with his research… and not in a “send demons back to hell because thats what God wants” way. Isla grew apart from her father and pursued her fascination with the dark arts, becoming The Occultist who plagues the characters in The Devil Made Me Do It.
So it was Father Kastners obsession with the Disciples of the Ram that led Isla Kastner to become the Satan-worshipping Occultist, but does that mean she was a card-carrying member of the Disciples? And what do those cards look like?
Neither of those questions have clear answers in The Devil Made Me Do It. Isla never mentions the Disciples herself, nor do we see her having drawn their symbol, the vaguely “A”-shaped rune that Annabelle/Janice scrawled in blood in the Forms house when she killed herself in Annabelle. But what Isla taught herself about demons she learned from texts gathered during her father’s investigation of the Disciples, so it’s likely that at least some of her evil education came from material tied to the cult.