The Devil on Trial begins streaming on Netflix on October 17, and if the premise sounds a little familiar, you might just be a fan of The Conjuring films. The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It was also based on the true story of 19-year-old Arne Cheyenne Johnson and 8-year-old David Glatzel.
But, while The Devil Made Me Do It was embellished for the big screen, The Devil on Trial is a documentary that allows us to get up close and personal with many of the real-life participants. In a nutshell, Johnson went to trial for murdering his landlord Alan Bono, and while he did not dispute the fact that he committed the crime, he claimed he was possessed at the time.
His story (and that of the Glatzel family) was that David had been possessed by a demon. During an exorcism ceremony, that demon leaped into Johnson, and he was made to stab Alan Bono repeatedly, killing him.
Making the story even more sensational was the fact that noted paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren had been working with the Glatzel family, and were present during the exorcism. They backed up Johnson’s account.
Ultimately, the judge would not allow to Johnson to claim not guilty by reason of possession, and he was instead convicted of first degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 – 20 years in prison, but only served five before being released.
The Devil on Trial gives us an up close and personal look at the events
What makes The Devil on Trial so compelling is that we hear the story from the mouths of several of the Glatzels (including David) and Arne Johnson himself. We also get to hear the audio taken during young David’s “possession,” which is chilling. His voice changes and he says things no child would normally say, especially during the time period of the late 70s – early 80s.
There are also photographs presented, but the most interesting part of The Devil on Trial is the huge divide between the way the story is told by David’s brother Carl and the rest of the family. Carl maintains that the story was fabricated, and that his family was bamboozled by the Warrens. David says he was indeed possessed.
It’s a truly fascinating rendition of the story, and well worth watching this Halloween season.