THE ENFIELD HAUNTING
All Fright In The 1970s
released 19 october 2015 | 15 | DVD
Director Kristoffer Nyholm
Cast Timothy Spall, Matthew MacFadyen, Juliet Stevenson, Rosie Cavaliero, Eleanor Worthington- Cox
Based on a notorious real- life case from the late ’ 70s, in which a council house family was plagued by misbehaving furniture and demonic voices, this three- part series achieved Sky Living’s best ever ratings back in May. But it’s not quite as successful as that statistic might suggest.
Eleanor Worthington- Cox is excellent as Janet Hodgson, the believably blunt, cheeky 11- yearold girl at the centre of it all. There are a few decent shocks ( particularly a surreal meatcarving nightmare sequence). And the period is evoked effectively, with all its brown wallpaper, over- sized collars and David Soul posters.
Whether, as star Timothy Spall claims, the mundanity of the setting, “in a sense makes it even scarier” is debatable, though. There’s an inescapable comedy bathos to seeing a sinister spirit popping up inside a View- Master, or a poltergeist chucking the marbles from a game of KerPlunk about. Ditto a possessed young girl yelling, “Stick it up your arse!”
Those familiar with the real- life story may also be surprised by how much has been fabricated to provide both a backstory for the hauntings, and an added emotional dimension, with paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse ( Spall) here driven by an obsession with his own dead daughter ( also called Jane). There’s a degree to which forcing this case to conform to a traditional dramatic template de- emphasises its ambiguities and smoothes away the rough edges that make it so interesting.
Extras Five short promo pieces ( 13 minutes), previously available online. Ian Berriman
When Janet Grosses’s life support is turned off, her brother and sister are played by the real- life brother’s son and daughter.