The Enfield Haunting site has all the information you’ll need to know about the Enfield poltergeist, Janet Hodgson and her family. And as a part of that collection of information, there are naturally questions about The Conjuring 2 and other pop culture references to the Enfield haunting.
Is The Conjuring 2 a true story? Did those events really happen? Let’s look at the film as compared to the events which reportedly occurred in 1970s England.
Is The Conjuring 2 a True Story?
To put it quite simply, only kind of. The Conjuring 2 is loosely based on the story of Janet Hodgson and her family during the Enfield haunting. However, like most cinematic versions based on true events, the film is highly dramatized.
As The Conjuring 2 opens, the viewer is introduced to Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are investigating the haunting of the Amityville house in Long Island, New York. Visibly distraught by the experience, Lorraine Warren, portrayed by Vera Farmiga, pleads with her husband to “give up paranormal research.”
Human curiosity, however, prevails when the couple is told of another haunting in Enfield, England. “The English Amityville,” it’s called. Ed and Lorraine Warren decide to travel to Enfield to investigate just one more poltergeist.
The events which follow in the movie are typical of any horror film. Foreboding nuns, larger than life toys come alive and inexplicable pet behavior set the tone for this motion picture. But, as you might imagine, not all of those events truly took place according to witnesses. So how true to life were the events in The Conjuring 2? As it turns out, not very.
Is The Conjuring 2 Real: Actual Events Portrayed in the Film
The writers and producers of The Conjuring 2 did their best to sensationalize the events which occurred during the Enfield haunting. Janet was a young girl, 11 years of age when the haunting reportedly occurred. She and her sister Margaret lived in public housing with their single mother, Peggy and their two brothers. And a series of bizarre events truly were reported by the family.
On the whole, many of the actual events which occurred during Janet Hodgson’s experiences were included in the movie. However, many more were added in order to, frankly, make the story more interesting.
In reality, Peggy Hodgson and her four children were supposedly visited by the ghost of Bill Wilkins. Janet Hodgson was assumed to have been possessed by his spirit by a number of investigators, and there were periodic displays of demonic activity both in fact and in film. The girl was said to have levitated from her bed, and other instances occurred as well. Toys were flung about the room, matches and candles were spontaneously lit. Some of these events were portrayed in the film.
However, there are quite a few events in The Conjuring 2 which did not happen in reality. Ed and Lorraine Warren are the protagonists in The Conjuring 2, and the film is centered around (fictitious) happenings surrounding the couple. Janet Hodgson and her family are just another subject of the Warrens’ investigation in The Conjuring 2; the Enfield haunting is a secondary plot within the movie.
What Did The Conjuring 2 Get Right?
The Conjuring 2 is a good example of popular culture playing on human fears. While it’s still up for debate whether Janet Hodgson was actually possessed by the spirit of Bill Wilkins or if the whole episode was an elaborate hoax, one thing remains for certain: the story gained international attention.
There had been stories of demonic possessions in the past. Children and adults alike have been described as “possessed” on all corners of the globe. But at the time of the Enfield haunting, the Warrens and their counterparts were capturing curiosity worldwide. Lorraine and Ed Warren, in particular, investigated such cases as the “Annabelle” haunting, Amityville and others, and the Enfield haunting was one of a series of events which could not be explained.
The Enfield Haunting and the Conjuring 2
Guy Lyon Playfair published a book following his extended stay at the Hodgson’s Enfield home. In that book, he described in detail the presumed possession of Janet – her mannerisms, the events which he witnessed, and the reactions of the community. The Conjuring 2, according to Playfair’s account, got quite a bit wrong.
Of course, it can be understood that The Conjuring 2 is a dramatization of events which have few witnesses. But there are several witnesses who describe how The Conjuring 2 got it wrong.
Real Life Counterparts vs The Conjuring 2 Cast
The most striking difference between The Conjuring 2 and the real Enfield haunting is that the Warrens weren’t there. According to Playfair, Ed and Lorraine Warren showed up at the Hodgson’s home unannounced and uninvited. They remained in the area for one day, until it was determined that they were fabricating “evidence.”
Once the truth about the Warrens came to light, they were promptly asked to leave the premises; the Hodgsons suspected that they were being preyed upon in an attempt to make money.
Secondly, Janet Hodgson has admitted to playing pranks for attention. In The Conjuring 2, there is no record of any such admission. By all means, this is necessary in a dramatic interpretation.
Finally, while Playfair does not appear in The Conjuring 2, Maurice Grosse does. Maurice Grosse was an investigator with the Society for Psychical Research. Like Guy Lyon Playfair, he spent significant amounts of time with Janet Hodgson. He plays only a minor role in The Conjuring 2; the Warrens instead are portrayed as the Hodgsons’ allies.
The Conjuring 2 and Paranormal Groups
Guy Lyon Playfair and Maurice Grosse were both members of the Society for Psychical Research. As noted, both spent much time with Janet Hodgson, investigating the home and learning the family’s history. Both stated that they believed Janet Hodgson’s possession to be real.
Other investigators visited the site of the Enfield haunting from the Society for Psychical Research. Renee Haynes and Anita Gregory were briefly present. Both investigators believed that the Enfield haunting was “highly overrated” and both believed that Janet’s possession was staged.
The SPR is but briefly mentioned in The Conjuring 2, however. Instead, Ed and Lorraine Warren are portrayed as the primary investigators in the Hodgson home. This is blatant misinformation. The Warrens’ paranormal group, New England Society for Psychic Research, was not involved directly in the Enfield haunting.
Renewed Interest in the Enfield Haunting
The Enfield poltergeist gained international attention. It was a popular news story at the time of the occurrence, and has continued to garner interest by paranormal enthusiasts worldwide.
In 2015, a miniseries was produced which more accurately depicts the events of the 1970s. Titled simple “The Enfield Haunting,” the series recounts somewhat less sensationally the story of Janet and her family.
The following year, of course, The Conjuring 2 was released. Since that time, Janet Hodgson has been reached for interview on numerous occasion. The interviews, however, fail to tell the story of what actually happened in 1970s Enfield. Janet Hodgson Winter, now a married mother of three, “can’t recall” what happened.