A recent viewing of James Wan’s The Conjuring 2, which utilises elements from the real life case of the Enfield Hauntings, prompted us to seek out this stylish three part series originally commissioned by Sky Living and now available to view via Amazon. Where Wan’s film turns the histrionics up to number 11, this offers a much more credible and absorbing version of the events, allowing viewers to make up their own minds as to whether there was something genuinely supernatural about them or whether they were simply an elaborate and brilliantly executed hoax.
Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall) is the psychic investigator enlisted in 1977, to look into the claims of the Hodgson family, who claim to have been plagued by poltergeist phenomenon in their little house in Enfield. Grosse and his wife, Betty (Juliet Stevenson) are still trying to come to terms with the recent death of their own daughter in a motorbike accident, so they are clearly quite receptive to the idea of life after death, as is author Guy Playfair (Matthew MacFadyen) fresh from investigating some mysterious supernatural happenings in South America. Though initially sceptical, he soon changes his tune once he’s been hurled bodily across a room. Most of the spooky phenomena are centred around teenager Janet Hodgson (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) who is prone to talking in the gruff voice of one of the house’s earlier tenants, an old man who died there some years earlier and who’s name has been inexplicably changed from Bill to Joe. But compared to the liberties Wan’s writers took with the story, that seems a minor niggle.
Directed by Krystoffer Nyholm (The Killing) and cannily scripted by the real Guy Playfair (together with Joshua St Johnson), this version makes Wan’s effort look like the overcooked hokum it actually is. There’s a skilfully orchestrated sense of mounting dread throughout and I loved the open-ended coda, which steadfastly refuses to confirm or deny the existence of the supernatural.
If you haven’t caught up with this yet, do – it’s an accomplished three parter. Little wonder that it is Sky Living’s most successful production to date.