GIANNA DE SALVO, an experienced paranormal investigator and fan of Guy Lyon Playfair’s book, This House is Haunted, gives her verdict on The Enfield Haunting, now showing on Sky TV
I remember thinking the first time I met Guy Lyon Playfair at a meeting of the Ghost Club around 2011 that he had the look of a man who experienced quite a bit in life.
Having read his book, This House is Haunted, and possessing a keen interest in the paranormal, and in poltergeist phenomena in particular, I felt compelled to speak to him about his previous cases.
Not wanting to take up too much of his time and being more than acutely aware that he has probably answered more questions about Enfield than one human being should have to in a lifetime, I gingerly approached him and asked, simply, “So, is poltergeist phenomena real?”
His response, not as weary as I would’ve expected it to be, was “All I can say is that there were things that happened in that house that defied normal explanation.”
I spoke to him a bit longer about his experiences encountering a poltergeist in Brazil and various other paranormal related topics, all the while finding him to be an open, honest and affable man; a man who had indeed encountered much in his life and carried around a slightly haunted look as a result.
So, when I heard that Sky Living was planning to make a mini-series based on Guy’s book, I was both excited and nervous.
As a book lover, I am often disappointed with the liberties that are taken when turning literature into film, but on the other hand it is ever so nice to be able to sit back and witness, in living colour, a familiar story being played out visually.
The Enfield Haunting acting and set design ‘top notch’
Sky’s drama, The Enfield Haunting certainly wasn’t a let down on the visual front.
The era (late 1970s) seemed to be depicted perfectly and the careful use of the juxtaposition of light and shadow as well as sound and silence, created a palpable tension that weaved its way magically through each of the three episodes.
The acting was top notch, with Timothy Spall playing the role, in his typical ‘heart on his sleeve,’ honest way, of the late Maurice Grosse and the young Eleanor Worthington-Cox, portraying Janet (the focus of most of the poltergeist activity) with a passion and conviction well beyond her years.
And while there is no doubt that Matthew Macfadyen is an excellent actor, not having known Guy Lyon Playfair in his younger days, I am not sure how accurately his character was depicted nor how much input Guy had in the initial process.
There were, of course, artistic liberties taken, including specific scenes that I don’t remember from the book and situations that seemed to be enhanced for dramatic effect.
One apparent theme throughout, however, was that of relationships.
The relationship between Maurice, who was haunted by the loss of his own daughter, and Janet; the relationship between Maurice and his wife (played by Juliet Stevenson, whom many critics feel was underused as a character); even the relationship between the investigators, the family and the poltergeist.
As the most documented case of its kind in history, it was obviously impossible to touch upon all of the occurrences that happened in the modest council house on Green Street, but I personally would have liked to have seen a bit more of the polt’s antics being displayed and a bit less of the ‘human’ story.
However, all in all, The Enfield Haunting certainly makes for worthwhile viewing.
You might just want to read the book as well in order to get the full, unadulterated version, for, as Guy states in his introduction, “if you are tired of all the over-dramatised versions of what were sometimes true events, and would like to know what really happens on a poltergeist case from start to finish in some detail, please read on….”
Guy Lyon Playfair’s book This House is Haunted (White Crow Books; 3rd edition edition (20 April 2011) describes in detail the events that occurred in Enfield. (You can read an article “Mystery Still Surrounds Enfield Poltergeist” written by Guy Lyon Playfair especially for Spooky Isles here.)