The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – Who is the Occultist?

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This article contains The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It spoilers.

Though the latest Conjuring movie, The Devil Made Me Do It, is named after the Arne Johnson murder case, whereby a young man claimed the crime he committed was caused by demonic possession, there’s an entirely new subplot that carries the body of the new film. 

After the supposedly possessed Arne Johnson is held in custody awaiting trial for the murder of his girlfriend’s landlord, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are on a mission to discover how and why these possessions took place. While the Johnson case is based on real events, the reasons behind the possession, as posed within The Devil Made Me Do It, are completely fictional

No matter! This allows the filmmakers to introduce the shadowy figure of The Occultist (played by Eugenie Bondurant), as well as a second tragic possession and murder, and to bring back the cult of The Disciples of the Ram who we first heard of in Annabelle.

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The mysterious Satanist’s backstory, plans, and intentions are alluded to but are never made crystal clear in the movie. So we’re breaking down what we know about the Occultist and her plans and also where you might have seen striking actor Eugenie Bondurant before.

Who is the Occultist?

We learn that her name is Isla (don’t worry if you blinked and missed this, it’s written in the photo album but no one ever calls her by that name). We know that she was born in 1932, that she was illegitimate (more of a thing in 1932), her mother died in childbirth, and that she was taken in by her biological father, a priest named Father Kastner.

We know that she was looked after in secret by Kastner and that he loved her very much, describing her childhood as happy, and talking about the joy that they shared. We also know that she was still living with Kastner up until at least the age of 20 in 1952 (according to the photo album), but that she left her father’s home at some point before The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’s 1981 setting (when she would have been 49). Kastner is unaware that Isla was living in the tunnels underneath his property and practicing the occult from down there during the events of the film.

When did Isla get into the occult?

It is not clear, but we do know that Kastner was fascinated by Satanism and was instrumental in bringing down the cult called The Disciples of the Ram, a Manson Family-esque group who appear in Annabelle (set in 1967). We know that Kastner exposed the Disciples of the Ram between 10 and 12 years earlier, which would make that somewhere around 1969 – 1971. We also know that he had been studying this cult for nine years, placing his research period as basically most of the 1960s.

Kastner says Isla shared his fascination with the occult and acknowledges that her exposure to all of his research material and ancient ritualistic tomes was his fault. He keeps everything in a locked room in the house, much like the Warrens’ artifact room, rather than burning these infernal texts.

It’s likely she learned everything she knows about demon worship from these books. 

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Was she part of the Disciples herself? It’s possible, yep, but we’d speculate not because you’d expect Kastner to have known about it had that been the case. Though her father’s research certainly inspired her. If the Disciples were disbanded at some point between 1969 and 1971, and her Dad had been studying them since about 1960, that would still give Isla a good 20 years to study all their texts and practices before carrying out her own series of rituals in and around 1981.

What’s her plan?

Lorraine finds the witches totem underneath the Glatzel’s house. It has been placed there deliberately, and Kastner is able to give her context regarding what it is – this totem is very similar to the ones used by the Disciples.

This isn’t, therefore, an incidence of David Glatzel accidentally summoning a demon – instead it’s a deliberate curse.

Kastner explains that the curse requires a blood sacrifice of murder and suicide from three souls – the child, the lover, and the man of God. David is the child, but in taking the demon from David, Arne becomes his surrogate. He’s committed the murder and is now trying to kill himself, under the influence of the demon. The lover is Jessica (Ingrid Bisu) who murdered Katie (Andrea Andrade) and plummeted to her own death (as an aside, DC Comics has released a comic book delving into Jessica and Katie’s back story called DC Comics Presents: The Conjuring: The Lover).  And the man of God is none other than Ed Warren. The Occultist has placed her third totem in a vase of flowers at the Warren house. 

When Ed ventures into the catacombs to save Lorraine, who is unable to defeat the Occultist or destroy her altar, he’s possessed and after the Occultist blows some sort of power in his eyes he is overtaken, wielding a mallet and seemingly trying to kill Lorraine. If Ed kills Lorraine and then himself the curse will be complete, the Occultist will be all powerful and the Conjuring Universe will become a massive bummer.  

Fortunately, love saves the day and Lorraine is able to break the spell bringing Ed back to her so he can destroy the altar and end the madness.

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Unfortunately for Isla, our Occultist, the demon still demands a soul to take back to hell so if it’s not going to be Ed, it’ll have to be her instead. The Demon whips Isla off to hell and order is restored.

Though Isla’s chapter is closed, there is still plenty of scope for another movie spin-off to explore her backstory and that of the Disciples, and what led her towards this dark and brutal end. We’d watch.

Where have you seen Eugenie Bondurant before?

Tigris in The Hunger Games MockingJay Part II

With her unusual and captivating looks you might recognise Bondurant from a few places. She had a successful modeling career in the U.S. and Europe, is a cabaret singer and has popped up in lots of TV shows including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frasier and MacGuyer. Though you might not exactly recognise her as such, her breakout movie role was as Tigris in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II. She’s the former Hunger Games stylist who gets sacked by President Snow for looking too wacky, and later opens a store in the Capitol specialising in fur. Bondurant also pops up in PollyAnna Macintosh’s sequel to The Woman, Darlin’ and even has a small part in Fight Club.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is in cinemas now and on HBO Max in the U.S.

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