One of the most storied cases of paranormal activity of all time, the Enfield poltergeist case, is getting the Hollywood treatment in The Conjuring 2 — the much-anticipated trailer of which dropped Thursday afternoon.
Like the first installment of the The Conjuring, the film will deal with a real life tale of haunted houses, and it’s one of the best documented occurrences out there: the Enfield poltergeist case.
Often called Britain’s most notorious haunting, the Enfield poltergeist first popped into English news in 1977 when the strange happenings first began to shake the Hodgsons. Janet, who was 11 at the time the events began, has spoken with the press a few times in recent years to revisit when she received national attention for the terror she experienced as a little girl. In The Telegraph last year, she recalled the moment on Aug. 31, 1977, when a chest of drawers gave the first indication that something was amiss in the family’s new home.
“I was due to start senior school the following week [when we first saw furniture moving]. We shouted ‘Mum! Mum!’ We were sort of frightened, but also intrigued. It’s so vivid, some of it… She was dumbfounded, really. She pushed it back and it started to move again. She tried to push it back again and it wouldn’t move. So she said ‘Right, we’ll go downstairs.’ We [were] very nervy. There was a funny atmosphere in the house. And then the knocking started.”
Disturbed by the creepy brush with invisible forces, Janet’s mother, Peggy, called local Enfield police. Officer Carolyn Heeps arrived on the scene to witness a chair sliding across the floor with no explanation. Doubtful that it could be a poltergeist at play, she checked the chair for wires that might be part of an elaborate prank, then placed a marble on the floor in the center of the room to see it was uneven — it didn’t move.
Those details attracted the attention of world-renowned paranormal expert Maurice Grosse, who visited Enfield to attempt to get to the bottom of the terror being experienced by the family. There he heard voices and saw unexplainable movements of inanimate objects in the house. He concluded that the house was indeed being haunted by a poltergeist.
Skeptics have been torn about the Enfield poltergeist as an example of attention-seeking invention. Footage of the girls levitating has been discarded as trick photography. Images of Jane attempting to bend spoons and steel bars have surfaced. Janet and Margaret themselves even once admitted to faking the story.
Still, national fascination with the case was not curbed. Soon after the Hodgsons family’s trials began gaining extensive coverage in tabloids like the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, the BBC aired a special bringing viewers into the supposed haunted house.
In the documentary, Janet and her sister, Margaret, giggle while recounting stories about being touched and thrown by a poltergeist. Many detractors of the veracity of the Enfield case have said this is clear evidence that the story was fabricated — no child would be that calm about experiencing something so traumatizing. In another clip, Janet says that “it’s not haunting” and is told to “shut up” by Margaret, who stifles a laugh afterward.
Horror fiends will already recognize references to Enfield in other forms. It appeared in a TV movie on British channel Sky Living last year, and it’s been the subject of several series exploring famous hauntings. Strong response to The Conjuring 2 trailer has fans watching for what could potentially be the best dramatization yet.
[Image via Graham Morris]