Based on a true story. The Enfield Haunting portrays the 'true' events that occurred in 1977 - 1979 in an unassuming home in Enfield, North London.
Also known as the Enfield Poltergeist, it was widely publicized by newspapers and media at the time and investigated by Maurice Gross (Timothy Spall)and Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen) of the society for psychical research (SPR) as well as other researchers periodically, including the famed Ed Warren.
Hotly debated both then and now over the truth of the claims, Maurice Gross asserts that much of the phenomena was indeed real.
However the activity, which revolved around a young girl Janet, was caught out on a few occasions faking incidents and seemed to enjoy the media attention.
The show does a great job at treading the line of portraying a clever, pre-pubescent girl who at times is in charge of her world and at others genuinely scared. According to theory, this is a prime environment for a poltergeist; the stress, frustration and sexual tension experienced by the youth (female especially) in some cases so extreme as to form physical or telekinetic activity.
The Enfield poltergeist however, may take some liberties with the original case study, such as showing an old man to be haunting the young girl, and the special connection formed between Maurice and Janet, which may be construed to muddy the facts of the activity.
This first episode deals with the set up of the family situation, single mother Peggy, daughters Janet (11) and Margret (13), sons Johnny (10) and Billy (7). We sense the tension in the mother having to raise the four children on her own after the father left (abandoned) and with Johnny having to go away to school due to 'behavioral issues'. Family life is strained, money is scarce and Janet even shares a bath with a slug in one scene.
After the girls experience some knocking sounds in their room, mother Peggy and brother Billy arrive in time to see a chest of drawers slide towards them on its own.
Just after this Maurice arrives at the home after being contacted by the SPR. He is met by two newspaper men who claim to have caught pictures of objects flying across the room. They tell Maurice that a police woman came to see what the disturbance was and witnessed a chair moving on its own; she left without further ado [Short of arresting the chair for being an unlicensed vehicle I guess there's not much they can do about poltergeists].
It's not long before the first newspaper article comes out and we witness Janet being bullied at school over it, and yet another stress we are privy to in her life; her older sister watches but does nothing to help.
The article draws attention to the family and very soon the SPR sends along Guy Lyon Playfair to help downplay the events occurring in the home lest it bring the society into disrepute. Janet takes an instant disliking to him.
We witness through the episode some of the events that are documented: marbles flying across the lounge, a teapot smashing on the floor and to finish off - Janet being tangled up in her drapes by the neck. The episode ends when Guy Lyon rushes into the room to untangle her and is thrown up to the ceiling.
Although I'm glad that this story has been made into a new production for us to watch, I am wary that for the want of drama and interest things will be (and have been) added in for pure effect. Such as the inclusion of the 'Old Man' that Janet fears she bought home from the cemetery and the addition of Maurice's wife having an affair (to what end this aids the plot we are yet to discover). For the most part it is covering the events in succession, but I'm sure as the parts progress we will get a bit wild with the truth.
The real truth however, is still yet to be discovered, I just hope they leave it open ended enough to satisfy the appetites of believers and skeptics alike.
For an account of the REAL STORY click here