Get a shag cut, grab your disco pants, your wood panelling and your crucifix, we’re off to tell a very spooky 70s tale. The power of flares compels you!
Told in just three parts, this series tells the seriously strange – and infamous – story of the family who claimed they were being plagued by a poltergeist that was sharing their North London council house. And though you may scoff, thinking ghosts are nothing but made-up phenomena by paranoid people, at the time, the British public were hooked, and it became one of the most infamous and well-covered ghost stories in history. So naturally, this isn’t the first time the tale has been adapted for the screens – fans of horror will have seen the movie version in The Conjuring 2. But we’re pleased to say that this miniseries adaptation is much more compelling, perfectly evoking the orange and brown hues of the 1970s, with costumes and a cracking cast to boot.
And it’s a good job the cast are compelling, as it takes a lot of talent to play people claiming to see ghosts and ghouls. Said people are the Hodgson family, made up of single-mother Peggy (Rosie Cavaliero) and her three kids, Margaret, Janet and Billy. Claiming to have witnessed the ghost rearranging their furniture – we hope they’ve read up on their feng shui – Peggy calls in the help of paranormal investigator, Guy Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen) and amateur ghost hunter Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall).
Together they are brilliant, and their spooked reactions are so realistic that even the biggest sceptic will flinch. The young Eleanor Worthington Cox is brilliant too as the poltergeist’s main victim, Janet, creating an eerie presence in that run-of-the-mill home, with its flying furniture and crockery that smashes itself. But it’s not just about the maybe-true tale of the haunting that had the public gripped – this miniseries also looks at childhood innocence, and the collateral damage of a father leaving the family home.
We know horror isn’t for everyone, particularly those which involve the paranormal, and if you’re someone who prefers your telly cosy and calm, then we won’t try and persuade you to watch this. But for those who like their shows to get their heartrate up, with some brilliant British acting and a real – we shan’t say true – story, then this will be right up your haunted street.
The critics clearly love a bit of a fright fest, as they were full of compliments for The Enfield Haunting – The Guardian’s Julia Raeside calls the series “outstanding,” saying it’s “packed with genuine thrills and superb performances from a young cast.” In The Telegraph, Michael Hogan says the show’s director Kristoffer Nyholm is “a master of slow-burn pacing and built an oppressive atmosphere, thick with dread and foreboding,” calling it “scarily compelling.” And The Times’s Andrew Billen reckons this is “a treat for lovers of things that go bump in the night and of character actors sparring.”
First shown May 2015. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.