The newly released supernatural docuseries, “The Enfield Poltergeist,” on AppleTV+ delves into the same alleged haunting as the 2016 film “The Conjuring 2.” While there are some superficial similarities between the two, such as mysterious rappings on the walls and a terrified little girl in a red nightgown, one key difference sets them apart. “The Conjuring 2” is undeniably scary, unlike its docuseries counterpart.
Directed by Jerry Rothwell, “The Enfield Poltergeist” effectively uses original field recordings and haunting visuals to create an eerie atmosphere. The incorporation of audio paired with visuals, along with the actors’ resemblances to the real people involved, gives the series an uncanny quality.
The Enfield Poltergeist Gallery
However, “The Enfield Poltergeist” doesn’t deliver scares in the same way as a James Wan horror film. The bangs and knocks mostly occur off-screen, and the timing of the scares doesn’t aim to make viewers jump out of their seats. Instead, the docuseries unfolds at the pace of a real-life paranormal investigation, gradually building tension over its four-hour runtime.
To keep the story engaging, “The Enfield Poltergeist” introduces doubts about the authenticity of the poltergeist activity surrounding Janet Hodgson, an 11-year-old girl living in a working-class home at 284 Green Street in North London. While initial interviews with neighbors and eyewitnesses claim paranormal proof, later episodes reveal conflicting accounts.
The Enfield poltergeist case is well-documented, with journalists and investigators from the Society for Psychical Research examining the Hodgson family’s council house during the 18-month period of hauntings. Maurice Grosse, a paranormal investigator, played a significant role and is portrayed through diary entries read by former colleagues. However, not everyone agrees on the authenticity of the phenomena.
Psychologist Anita Gregory provides a counterpoint, suggesting that the phenomenon should be understood within the family’s dynamics. While tensions were present in the Hodgson household, “The Enfield Poltergeist” doesn’t dwell on this sensitive aspect. Instead, it presents a range of wild theories alongside the possibility of Janet faking the events for attention.
The series takes a turn when Janet herself makes an appearance, shifting the tone dramatically. As the narrative progresses, it becomes clear that Janet holds the answers to the questions raised. Vintage news clips, dub, and punk tracks help establish the atmosphere of late-’70s England, while the meticulous re-creation of 284 Green Street adds another layer of authenticity to the investigation.
Rather than attempting to definitively prove or disprove the existence of ghosts, “The Enfield Poltergeist” takes an open-minded approach, focusing on the emotional impact the experiences had on those involved. It acknowledges the subjective nature of paranormal encounters, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions.