film study: is The Conjuring 2 FACT [or] FICTION?

Earlier this week – Monday the 13th – a friend and I went and saw The Conjuring 2. I enjoyed it, surprisingly a lot more than I expected; and definitely better than the first Conjuring film. [read my full review on The Conjuring 2 hereHowever, on the way back from the movie, I had an epiphany: if the “haunting” shown in the film is based on actual events, and Ed and Lorraine Warren were concerned about the whole thing being a hoax, just how much of is actual truth? That’s where we are today: I’m going to be looking into the true story behind the infamous “Enfield Poltergeist” and separate the facts from the fiction. As expected, this post does involve the plot and important details involving The Conjuring 2. Being as it’s a newer release, spoilers will be everywhere within this post. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, or you’re okay with spoilers – let’s begin.

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Before we officially begin though, it’s important to note that Director James Wan didn’t take many shortcuts when translating the infamous Enfield Haunting onto the big screen – this is proved when he went so far as to display real-life photographs and locations against the ones shown in the movie during the end credits. I mean, that’s impressive and it really adds to the tone of the film. Even hearing the actual tapes during the credits reminded viewers that this was an actual event..or was it?

At the beginning of the movie, we start with the infamous Amityville case and its aftermath, because most of Conjuring 2 has to keep going back to the Warrens‘ story across the Atlantic as they deal with how traumatizing the event was for Lorraine. The case in this movie was often called the “English Amityville,” or “the Enfield Case” because [unlike what was shown in the movie] there was many paranormal investigators swooping in from all over the globe. So yes, the Warrens did drop by at one point in 1978 according to one of the investigators, Guy Lyon Playfair. But according to him, during an interview on Darkness Radio, the Warrens showed up “uninvited and only stayed for a day.” Even worse, Playfair claimed: “All I can remember is Ed Warren telling me that he could make a lot of money for me out of it.” Playfair isn’t the first to say something like this – over the course of their cases, the Warrens were constantly called out for “helping families for the money and fame” rather than their hearts of gold – which the movies show them to have. [listen to the entire interview with Playfair here]

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though I gotta say, the chemistry between these two is perfect.

It’s important to note that a lot of the details in the movie, like how the supernatural problems occur after the girls play with a Ouija board, are fact though – and are straight from the accounts of the Hodgson family. [especially Janet and Peggy] They did flee to the neighbor’s house like they did in the film, with witnesses claimed they could hear  “whistling” and “knocking on the walls” just as it happens in the film.

But note that I said “a lot” of the details..not all. Some of the more extravagant occurrences, such as the scene [that’s also seen in the trailer] where we see all the crosses on the wall turning upside down, has absolutely no basis in what the girls say happened: You read that right, this never happened. [though the girls claim that the room really did have crosses on the wall in the first place] Janet was also actually recorded having a deep-throated, evil voice when in interviews and throughout the investigations. You can also see in the interview below that the movie actually followed Janet‘s mannerisms and claims quite faithfully.

Another important tidbit, which comes from the movie and the actual case, was that an older man by the name of Bill Wilkins actually died in their home. According to Terry: Bill Wilkins‘ son, the man actually did die in that bloody chair of a brain hemorrhage. As you no doubt heard in the interview video above, Janet claims to have been possessed by Wilkins, leading many to believe this gives a large credibility to the case. But does it? Hold on. In the movie, one of the skeptics points out that Janet could have very easily have heard about Wilkins from a neighbor, and it would have been very easy for her to fake the voice in order to keep the whole charade going. Still, the movie pays close attention to Janet‘s specific recollections, even adding her [actual] claims that when the “voice” came over her, she felt like something was behind her.. But this is all nothing compared to what comes next:

Janet was caught faking the haunting: and more than once!

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[the longer I look at this, the more it really does look like she’s just jumping]

Near the end of the movie, the investigators catch Janet bending spoons and flipping tables on video, making it clear to them that she was faking the activity – but would you believe me if I said that this also happened in reality, with Janet and her sister faking it more than once in the exact same manner? It’s true as even Janet herself has admitted that “some” of the events were faked, even though she adamantly remains convinced that most of it was real, including her possession. At least the haunting[s] stopped, right? By the end of The Conjuring 2, we earn something of a conclusion, that the demonic spirit is destroyed by the Warrens and everyone is happy. However, it also points out at the very end that Peggy Hodgson continued to live in the home until her last days of life [which is fact] and ultimately – died in the same chair as Bill Wilkins. This follows the truth of it [for the most part], as the Hodgsons have claimed over the years that while most of the haunting stopped after a priest visited them in 1978, activity still occurred in the home for the following decades to a smaller and lesser degree. Of course, like any other “true story”, the movie also left out a few important parts: such as Janet being sent to a psychiatric hospital where they “stuck electrodes” on her head for tests. Though, the tests turned out normal. The movie also leaves out that Janet‘s sister Margaret had “the voice” speak through her as well!

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Left to right: Margaret, Johnny, Janet

The question I’ll leave you with today is Is it all a hoax?” Unfortunately, It’s hard to claim that the entire case was just faked by this family considering all evidence to the contrary. But you have to admit: it’s even more impressive how well-documented this case was, which resulted in a movie that manages to capture much of the story’s compelling moments and arguments without drifting too far from the truth. You know, except for the part where Ed and Lorraine Warren are not just “in it for the money.” If you’re still aching for more on this “case”, click here for a hour long documentary on the Enfield Poltergeist and be sure to leave your thoughts on this whole “scenario” in the comments below!

As always, if you find yourself to enjoy what I do on here, then please take a minute and follow me over on my Facebook page [we’re at over 150+ likes – let’s get to 200!] By clicking that “like” button, you’ll see every post from warrenisweird the very moment it’s been “gone live” online; and I also share links to articles and pictures/videos that will not be featured here on the blog.

Every “like” helps me a ton, giving me the ability to write more posts for you to read, so be sure to tell the horror enthusiast in your life to do the same, and share The Facebook Page with your family and friends! I’ve also been writing way more reviews on my Letterboxd account, this is because I’m trying to review every single movie I watch  – with each review coming the very next day after viewing! Are you interested yet? Check me out over there and click that “follow” button! I’m just bound to follow you back because I like reading other people’s thoughts on film, as well as writing reviews myself!

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THANKS FOR READING.

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