The Enfield Poltergeist documentary brings eerie Halloween chills [Apple TV+ review]


"The Enfield Poltergeist" is an eerie way to spend a Halloween-ish evening.
Image: Apple

TV+ Review The Apple TV+ documentary The Enfield Poltergeist goes in-depth on “the most famous poltergeist haunting in history.” The events inspired The Conjuring 2 and are creepy Halloween fun, though unlikely to convince anyone that ghosts are real.

I suspended my disbelief for a few hours and enjoyed the show for what it is.

The Enfield Poltergeist brings 1970s technology to ghostbusting

Apple TV+ provides some background:

“In 1977, the terrifying haunting of an everyday family in Enfield, London dominated headlines across the United Kingdom and had a tremendous impact on an entire generation of children. The mysterious case forever changed ideas about the supernatural, and showed that it wasn’t just restricted to castles and stately homes but could be experienced by anyone, anywhere.”

The reports of mysterious knocks, flying objects and moving furniture were investigated by Maurice Grosse from the Society for Psychical Research. And he brought a tape recorder.

It’s his many hours recordings that make The Enfield Poltergeist interesting and a bit creepy. Aside from narration and modern interviews, all the audio from the documentary is from the 1977 investigation.

The Enfield Poltergeist -- Janet Hodgson
Olivia Booth-Ford provides the visual for young Janet Hodgson. The audio is from Hodgson herself.
Photo: Apple TV+

Actors were hired to recreate the events but they are lip-synching to the recordings. The result is that viewers are hearing exactly what happened in the Hodgson home outside of London.

As shown in the four-part docuseries, Grosse was enthralled by the weird events and spent months on the investigation. His pursuit of the poltergeist centers on Janet Hodgson, aged 11. It’s this child who is supposedly nearly strangled by curtains and at one point is even photographed flying across her bedroom, supposedly thrown by the ghost.

A haunting from the perspective of believers

Grosse and others he brings in, like Guy Lyon Playfair, are true believers. And it’s their absolute conviction that something inexplicable is happening that makes much of the first half of The Enfield Poltergeist fun.

I quieted by doubts about the whole life-after-death matter and watched the show with as open a mind as I could. For a few hours, I tried to believe spooks are real.

What I got was a fun way to spend a Halloween-ish evening. The Apple TV+ documentary is well made and the first episode is definitely low-key creepy.

I enjoy the spooky season but don’t at all like typical horror movies. Torture porn and/or gallons of blood aren’t for me. Atmospheric filming and knowing that what I’m listening to really happened make The Enfield Poltergeist is just a bit scary. “Eerie” probably describes it best.

And it’s not just me who enjoyed the documentary — at the time of this writing, The Enfield Poltergeist has a 100% critics approval rating on the review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Watch the trailer:

You (probably) won’t be persuaded

While I hope you’re entertained by the show as much as I was, don’t expect much more. If you hadn’t noticed, the Enfield “haunting” didn’t convince everyone that ghosts are real.

Episodes one and two of The Enfield Poltergeist present the mystery from the standpoint of Grosse, with his recordings taking center stage. The first episode works well as a creepy movie, though it’s very convenient that the flying objects and moving furniture always seem to happen when only the Hodgson children are in the room. Time after time, Grosse and Playfair run into the kids’ shared bedroom just in time to miss seeing anything.

And it’s in the second episode where sharing Grosse’s belief starts to become nigh impossible. Janet Hodgson suddenly starts channeling for a ghost, speaking in a raspy voice and barking out swear words and threats.

Bad “documentaries” might leave it at that to deliberately leave some question about what really happened. The Enfield Poltergeist devotes parts of its second and third episode to investigations by people who think that Grosse and his team were much too credulous.

The fourth episode is about the aftermath, including a modern interview with Janet Hodgson.

The Enfield Poltergeist -- Maurice Grosse
The Enfield Poltergeist wouldn’t be possible without audio recordings made by Maurice Grosse (Christopher Ettridge).
Photo: Apple TV+

I throughly enjoyed the first hour. The second hour too, until little Janet Hodgson didn’t know when to stop and added a twist to the “haunting” that seems like something only a teenager would consider believable.

The third episode answers the question, “Is this Apple TV+ documentary trying to convince people that ghosts are 100% real?” Spoiler alert: it’s not. And the final segment is interesting mostly for its interview with Janet.

Honestly, four hours on this topic is more than enough. But if all you want is something creepy for Halloween, watch episode one.

Watch The Enfield Poltergeist on Apple TV+

All four segments of The Enfield Poltergeist are available for Apple TV+ subscribers.

Watch on Apple TV

The streaming service costs $9.99 per month, and there are no commercials to endure.


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