The Real Haunted History Of 'The Conjuring 2'
October 11, 2019 6:00 AM ‐ Movies
The sequel to the 2013 movie, this time we delve into another real haunting case from the files of celebrated demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who in the movie are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.
This time around it's one of the most famous poltergeist cases of all time. A case which took place in the London suburb of Enfield in 1977. James Wan's 2016 movie 'The Conjuring 2' introduces us to the Hodgson family who are being plagued by poltergeist activity in their council home.
A local paranormal investigator by the name of Maurice Grosse has already taken on the case and is helping Peggy and her four children deal with the disturbing supernatural phenomenon. As 'The Conjuring 2' primarily revolves around the work of the Warrens, the story is told from their perspective.
But, how close to the real life haunting is this movie, and were the Warrens really involved with the case?
How It Began
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At the start of the movie we see Janet and Margaret playing with a homemade Ouija board. This is in fact exactly what is said to have caused the real life haunting. Years after the case came to an end, the girls confessed to having played with a Ouija board.
In the movie the girls are seen playing with the spirit board alone in their bedroom, but according to the girls the real life event took place in a friend's shed four years before the incident began. They said they saw the face of a demon appear in the shed's window and believe this could have been the event which started the paranormal outbreak.
The first bit of paranormal activity we see in the movie is Janet waking up downstairs in the middle of the night with no memory of how she got there. This is something that did happen frequently to Janet during the haunting.
On several occasions the 11-year-old reported being pulled from her bed while sleeping, other times she said she was thrown from her bed - often landing outside the bedroom or in unusual places. On one occasion she was found asleep on top of a radio which was on top of a chest of drawers in the bedroom the girls shared.
The first time Peggy witnesses anything odd in the movie is when a chest of drawers moves in the girl's bedroom. This mirrors reality and was the real-life start of the case.
The real Peggy heard a noise coming from the back bedroom, she went into the room to tell the children to stop messing around but Janet told her that the noise was coming from the drawers near the doorway. Then, Peggy witnessed it herself, the drawers shuffled forward across the floor out into the room. Peggy pushed it back against the wall, only to find that it moved again, the third time she tried to push it back, she couldn't, it was as if an invisible force was stopping it.
Like in the movie, at this point the family had seen enough and rushed next door to the Nottingham's, or across the road as it's depicted in the movie. In the movie the neighbour calls the police, this is also close to reality, although it was Peggy who called herself. Just like in the movie, constable Caroline Heeps saw an ordinary kitchen chair slide about a meter across the floor as if it was being pulled.
The following media interest that the family gained was also true to life. The re-created news footage we see in the movie include Hazel Short, a local lollypop lady who has been given the very American title of "crossing guard" in the film.
She talks about how she saw Janet through a window being thrown around in the air like she was floating. This is very close to Hazel's real life statement, "Janet was going up and down as though someone was just tossing her up and down, in a horizontal position, like as if someone had got hold of her legs and back and throwing her up and down."
Graham Morris is also seen in these clips, he was also involved in the real case. In fact he was the first photographer to visit the house and became a regular there throughout the case. In the real case he was also hit in the head with a Lego brick, just like in his fictional statement in the movie.
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The Enfield Voices
Ed Warren once said, "by far, though, the most compelling aspect to this case is the physicalised voice manifestations that occur in the house."
The voices Ed is talking about are what make the Enfield case so famous and memorable. They started a few months into the haunting when Maurice Grosse, the lead investigator in the case, challenged the poltergeist to speak. A gruff, male voice responded, coming from Janet.
The voice sounded like that of an elderly man and the researchers were convinced it was not the voice of a young girl. The voice identified itself as Joe Watson. The whole conversation was caught on tape by Maurice and over the next few weeks Joe's voice was replaced by many other spirits, including the voice of Bill who features in the movie.
In the movie we see Janet produce the voices during a television interview. This is very close to reality as you can see from the image above. The real life interview was conducted by Stewart Lamont, a news broadcaster from BBC Scotland working on the 'Nationwide Special' programme.
After making contact with the spirit of William "Bill" Wilkins for the first time the previous night, Maurice brought his son to the house to speak to the now very chatty poltergeist. Richard Grosse asked "what happened when you died?" The gruff voice answered that it had died of "a haemorrhage" - this is mirrored in the movie.
Although Janet took on at least six distinct personas, not one of them was the "crooked man" we meet in the film. This was just a bit of Hollywood embellishment designed to add a few jump scares.
Ed & Lorraine Arrive
Ed Warren was a former police officer, but went on to become the founder of the New England Society For Psychic Research. He met Lorraine while serving during the Second World War. Lorraine was a practicing medium and, after forming a partnership with and marrying Ed, discovered that she was able to communicate with the demons he encountered.
At the time they got involved with the Enfield case Ed and Lorraine were at the height of their career, having just investigated the infamous Amityville house in New York. At the beginning of the movie we're reacquainted with the husband and wife paranormal investigation team during the final throws of the Amityville case, but we'll leave that story for another time as it's Enfield were interested in right now.
In the movie it is a member of the church that asks Ed and Lorraine to fly to London to help the family. In reality, it was Lorraine who first made contact with Maurice Grosse in a letter dated May 1978, ten months after the first reported happenings at the house.
In the letter she said that she has been following developments at the house and that she had hoped to visit but was not able to make it, however Ed was planning on visiting the house in London in June. Ed spent a week at the house the following month and witnessed the demonic voice of Bill for himself.
Ed later returned with Lorraine, they spent a day at the house where they interviewed the family and took part in a live transatlantic telephone linkup with the WVAM, a radio station in Pennsylvania. As the Hodgsons didn't have a phone in the house, it took place at a family member's house down the street.
Talking about the case, Ed said that "this Enfield case makes Amityville look like a playhouse."
The movie would have you believe that Ed and Lorraine Warren crossed the Atlantic to save the family in North London in a dramatic showdown with a demon. The reality is that the Warrens' role in the case was much less important and the real life ending to the haunting was very different and didn't involve the Warrens at all.
The haunting began to wind down after Janet was sent away to the Maudsley's Institute Of Neuropsychology in South London. While at the hospital, Janet underwent a series of physical and psychological tests to see if there was a medial or psychological explanation for what she'd been experiencing.
Janet spent almost six weeks in the hospital and no unusual incidents occurred during this time. When asked why she thought the poltergeist had left her alone at Maudsley, Janet said "the power can't build up cuz there's no one else to help build it up."
About a month later when Janet was home, a Dutch medium named Dono Gmelig-Meyling put his healing skills to use in the house. The medium couldn't speak English, but went up to the bedroom on his own, came down later and implied that was it. After he left, things began to calmed down.
It was almost a year after this that Ed and Lorraine made their second and final visit to the house. During their four days with the family, the Warrens and two colleagues recorded over 13 hours of audio and captured phenomenon such as levitation of objects on camera.
They also reported witnessing rocks appear from nowhere and even what they described as the "spontaneous removal of the wallpaper" in the kitchen, but there was no Valak the demonic nun and no risk of Ed falling out of a window and impaling himself on the razor-sharp tree trunk.
The family eventually moved from the house on Green Street and Janet made a full recovery, although she doesn't remember all of the incidents that occurred.
Janet and Margaret returned to the house in 2016 where they had an emotional reunion with Lorraine Warren, who was in her 90s at the time, her husband Ed passed away in 2006. The trip down memory lane was a publicity stunt that took place ahead of the release of the movie.
Ed and Lorraine's role in the investigation is greatly exaggerated under the pretence of creative license. In fact, the couple only visited the house three or four times, and all of their visits were towards the end of the case when paranormal activity was already dying down.
Even Gerald Brittle's 1980 book 'The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren' which has a chapter dedicated to the Enfield case, adds very little to the real life story, other than confirming that Ed and Lorraine visited the house and thought the haunting was the work of a demon.
A more accurate account of the story can be found in Guy Lyon Playfair's 1980 book, 'This House Is Haunted'. His version of the story was the inspiration for the 2015 Sky Living series 'The Enfield Haunting' starring Timothy Spall.
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