Interview: Poltergeist Documentary Explores Truth Behind The Conjuring 2
When The Conjuring 2 hits US theaters on June 10th, it’s certain to rekindle interest in events that took place in a council house in Enfield, England between 1977 and 1979. Single mother Peggy Hodgson and her two oldest daughters, Margaret (age 13) and Janet (age 11) were subjected to a series of supernatural attacks that escalated in intensity until the haunting ceased abruptly. Dubbed The Enfield Poltergeist, the case would draw intense media scrutiny, amassing both supporters and skeptics. To this date, it is considered one of the most documented paranormal events ever investigated.
The haunting in Enfield seemed to unfold in three distinct phases; first: Poltergeist activity. Peggy called police in the summer of 1977 to report small objects flying around the apartment, as well as furniture moving, seemingly on its own volition; knocking sounds were also heard on the walls and ceilings. When word got out, the UK’s Daily Mirror sent a news team to Enfield to investigate the validity of this disturbance. A cameraman and a reporter both witness Lego bricks and marbles flying through the Livingroom, and heard mysterious scraping sounds emanating from the walls. Paranormal researchers Maurice Grosse and Guy Lyon Playfair were called in for their expertise; both agreed the events were genuine and would spend considerable time with Peggy and her children over the next couple years.
The second phase of the Enfield haunting involved direct spectral contact, resulting in levitation. During this period, Janet specifically was tormented by an entity that would pull her out of bed, often moving her through the air as though being carried by an invisible force. While examples of this levitation were captured in photographs, they can hardly be considered conclusive proof; sceptics point out that the perceived effect could have easily been achieved by Janet simply jumping off her bed. (See for yourself in the pictures below). It’s worth noting, however, that the poltergeist activity intensified during this phase, moving objects of considerable heft; investigators also became keenly aware of an awful stench permeating the residence.
The third and final phase of the Enfield haunting is also the most controversial and divisive: Demonic possession. The investigators first noticed barking sounds that came from Janet’s vicinity, even though her mouth and lips never moved. When Fairplay and Grosse challenged the entity to speak in English, Janet began spewing obscenities in an impossibly deep voice. While the voice was recorded on multiple occasions, this “proof” seemed to do more to dissuade potential supporters than convince them something supernatural was really afoot. Basically, it all began to seem a little silly. The haunting came to an abrupt end after Janet was hospitalized for a 2 month period, during which time she was given a bevy of physical and psychological examinations, and found to be a normal child in every respect.
Believers in The Enfield Poltergeist note that similar reports of otherworldly phenomena usually center around children near the age of adolescence; indeed, both Margaret and Janet were in the early stages of puberty. Janet’s most violent levitations occurred, incidentally, on the day of her first period. The family had also suffered a recent upheaval, when Peggy divorced the children’s father. It was the combination of these stresses and emerging energies, supporters purported, which allowed the paranormal activity to manifest. Skeptics, on the other hand, believe this is nothing more than proof the children were troubled, and therefore faked the otherworldly events for attention; they also note that the Enfield haunting began the very same year Jay Anson’s book, The Amityville Horror, became an international bestseller.
The Conjuring franchise finds inspiration in the case files of “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren; the husband and wife team did visit the home in Enfield, although their participation in the investigation and subsequent analysis was minimal. But it’s important to question whether Ed and Lorraine may have had a part in the final “escalation” of the haunting. When reviewing the Warren’s most infamous cases, a pattern emerges: Hauntings transition into demonic possession. This happened with the Lutz family in the Amityville hauntings, as well as with the Perron family from Rhode Island (subjects of the first Conjuring film). Did their demonologists’ approach to parapsychology perhaps influence Janet’s most extreme behaviors, specifically the voices? Skeptics certainly believe so.
When asked how it felt to channel demonic voices, Janet responded: “It feels like I’m being used”. That simple response is actually incredibly telling. Paranormal investigators believe she was referring to the possession, but perhaps she felt used by her mother (or the investigators, or the media) to perpetuate and exaggerate what was actually just a hoax. The fact that the occurrences in Enfield went from frequent to nonexistent following Janet’s hospitalization is also very telling. It suggests that things got out of hand and went too far. For a 13-year-old, a 2 month hospital stay must have felt like an eternity; the constant examinations could not have been pleasant. Perhaps, enough was enough.
While I’m a skeptic when it comes to the events in Enfield, I agree that the story of the Hodgson family will make for an excellent horror movie, so I’m looking forward to seeing The Conjuring 2 in June. As far as reports of paranormal activity in general, I like to keep an opened mind; still, I’ve yet to see documentation of anything that convinces me such occurrences are real.
In 2007, Britain’s Channel 4 released a documentary about the events in Enfield; Interview with the Poltergeist includes conversations with most of the story’s major players, including Janet and Margaret who, as adults, remain adamant that the haunting was real. You can watch Interview with the Poltergeist below in its entirety, and make up your own mind.
Do you believe that poltergeist activity is real? Are you excited to see The Conjuring 2 in June? Let me know in the Comments section!