Could 'The Conjuring 4' Explore The Satanic Panic Hysteria Of The 1980s?

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a hit, which means it's only a matter of time before The Conjuring 4 is announced. But where does the franchise go next? The Devil Made Me Do It brings Ed and Lorraine Warren, the ghost hunting couple played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, out of the 1970s and into the 1980s. That opens a world of possibilities. And according to The Devil Made Me Do It director Michael Chaves, one of those possibilities is the infamous Satanic Panic craze of the era.

The Conjuring 4 and Satanic Panic?

As of this moment, The Conjuring 4 hasn't officially been announced – but I'm expecting that to change soon. And when it does, we have to wonder: where does the story go next? Personally, as long as Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Ed and Lorraine Warren, I don't really care – I'll watch them do anything as those characters at this point.

Still, I was curious, so I asked The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It director Michael Chaves where he thought the series could go in the next movie. He told me:

"Ultimately, as you probably can guess, this is [franchise mastermind] James [Wan]'s baby. Even as he handles all of his other projects, he is the Kevin Feige of this world. So it's really up to him, the direction that it takes. I grew up watching The X-Files. I loved how each one of those cases felt new and unique. And I think that the success of that first Conjuring is the reason we have this incredible franchise, but it's also built this unfair expectation that they always have to be haunted house movies. I am so excited to see the Warrens go outside of the haunted house, and just take on cases that are surprising and exciting. I think there's so much interesting material for them to explore. I also just love how we start pulling out the thread of Satanism and the Satanic Panic. And as [the franchise] heads into the '80s, where that really became a thing, I feel like that could be really exciting to see as well."

What This Could Mean for The Conjuring 4

In the 1980s, a wave of so-called "Satanic Panic" swept the United States. It was kicked off by a book called Michelle Remembers, written by Michelle Smith and her husband, psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, and published in 1980. In the book, Smith claimed, under hypnosis, that when she was a child she was forced to attend Satanic rituals that involved sexual abuse. But here's the thing: none of it happened. Three years later, the McMartin preschool trial furthered the Satanic Panic madness. The case involved a preschool in California that was accused of perpetrating sexual abuse involving Satanism. Despite tons of media attention which effectively convicted the suspects before they even saw their day in court, charges were eventually dropped.

Despite lack of evidence, fear of Satanists infiltrating the country and sacrificing children swept the country. Of course, if The Conjuring 4 does dive into Satanic Panic, it's in a tricky spot. Because the Conjuring movies are very much all-in on being movies about faith. The Warrens are firm believers in the power of God, and as much as I love this series in general, I'm worried that a Satanic Panic Conjuring movie would treat the Satanic Panic as a real thing and not something that was caused by mass hysteria. We'll see!