The Enfield Poltergeist Director On Why The Case Remains So ‘Enduring’ Nearly 50 Years Later

 The Enflield Poltergeist cast.
The Enflield Poltergeist cast.

Over the years, some of the best horror movies and TV shows have been based on or influenced by real events like the Amityville haunting, the terrifying story of Ed Gein, and the various exorcisms and encounters behind The Exorcist. The same can also be said about the case at the center of the new Apple TV+ original series, The Enfield Poltergeist, which explores the true story that inspired movies like The Conjuring 2.

In an interview prior to the release of the four-part docuseries that features actors lip-syncing archival audio recordings captured by Maurice Grosse between 1977 and 1979, director Jerry Rothwell sat down with CinemaBlend to discuss a number of topics, including the “enduring” legacy of the story nearly fifty years later.

I think there's a couple of things. One is it's sort of a case that happens in very ordinary circumstances. You know, like it's not a ghost story that's to do with castles or kind of fancy country houses. It's happening in a North London suburb to a working class family. It could be all of us. I think the second aspect of it is that it was documented in incredible depth. There are a lot of photographs, there are all of Morris' notes at the time.

The genre-bending docuseries, which at times is utterly horrifying while at others incredibly heartfelt, contains an enormous amount of information, the vast majority of it taken from Grosse’s hundreds of hours of recordings and detailed notes about essentially every aspect of his study of 11-year-old Janet Hodgson and her family.

That combined with statements of family, friends, and even police officers saying they witnessed these hard-to-explain events, creates a series that looks beyond the legend of the Enfield Poltergeist to find something real:

All of those things kind of make it enduring as a story.

And while it would be easy to get caught up in legend of the Enfield case and the mystique surrounding it after so many movies, TV shows, and even stage productions have been based upon it, Rothwell feels the documentary approach and access to Grosse’s vast collection of research gives the 2023 TV series an “exciting” touch:

It’s a 45-year-old case that has had stories layered on top of it, you know? What’s lovely about these tape recordings is they take you down through those layers to what people think they saw ten minutes ago or five, or a sound that happened and then was in a report, but you’re actually hearing that sound that they report on. So for me, that was one of the exciting things about it.

Although the paranormal case at its core has been covered many times over the years, Rothwell explained that when making The Enfield Poltergeist, he avoided watching The Conjuring 2, even though one could argue it is the best entry in the franchise, because he didn’t want to be influenced by it. Instead, he sought to “try and put people in the place” of both the family and Grosse during the investigations with the new series.

Whether you’re a fan of the Conjuring universe or simply hearing about this gripping case for the first time, you can watch The Enfield Poltergeist streaming now. However, you will need an Apple TV+ subscription to check it out.