After the success of the first film The Conjuring, which we discussed in a previous article, James Wan decided to grace us with yet another installment in the franchise. This time instead of staying in America, he focused on an investigation that took the Warrens, famous paranormal investigators, overseas to Enfield, England.
When both an interview with the Hodgson family aired and news spread of the Warrens investigating their residence, the family was flung into the eye of the public. Many believed they were suffering and wanted to help, while many others believed that it was a hoax to achieve more government funding.
Either way, the events that unfolded led the family to live through, as they describe, the most horrifying period of their life. It also gave the rest of the world an entertaining story to watch years later.
The following article contains spoilers for the movie The Conjuring 2, so please read at your own discretion.
On May 13, 2016, director James Wan released the second installment in a trilogy, The Conjuring 2. Much like the first film, it centered on an investigation conducted by famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
However, there were a few very important details that differed in this film. The first is the year it takes place. Unlike the first one being set in the late sixties to early seventies, the sequel takes place in the late seventies.
The second major difference is the location. Instead of taking place in America, the second movie took place internationally, in this case, The London Borough of Enfield, in England.
The final major difference between the two is the fact that this one faced a lot more controversy than the original. Sure, there were a few people who claimed that Ed and Lorraine exaggerated what the Perrons were going through in the original film, but the overall backlash that the family and Warrens received when detailing their stories was much greater here.
People worldwide claimed that the family was just making everything up to obtain more government funding, but the picture that James Wan paints in his movie tells us otherwise.
Taking place in the seventies in England, the film circles around the Hodgson family, which is made up of the mother, Peggy, the two daughters, Margaret and Janet, and the two sons, Billy and Johnny.
The movie starts off exploring the involvement the Warrens had in the haunting of the Amityville house. It is here that it becomes clear to Lorraine a demon is not only the source of the problems in this house, but it is also after the soul of her husband, Ed.
Then it cuts to Enfield and the focus shifts to the Hodgsons, a struggling family where Peggy supports her four children while living in government-funded housing. They seem to live a relatively normal life until the second oldest child, Janet, begins to act strangely.
It starts off with her sleepwalking and talking in her sleep. She even starts telling her family that the spirit of an old man is appearing and tormenting her, but with none of them seeing it, it’s hard for anyone to believe her.
This changed once Janet soon showed symptoms of being possessed by something, and all signs pointed to the old man. The reason for this is because of the famous documentary that aired on BBC.
In it, Janet and her sister were interviewed. But part way through, Janet seemingly lost control over her body, disturbed viewers, and ultimately led to Ed and Lorraine being sent by a priest.
You see, Janet was unaware of what was coming out of her mouth, and didn’t even remember that she then claimed to be the spirit of a seventy-two-year-old man named Bill Wilkins.
The documentary also contained interviews with Peggy and their neighbors, who described an incident where a wardrobe was moved on its own, as well as interviews with the two police officers that witnessed a chair moving on its own.
Because of all the media attention that the Hodgson case was receiving, the church needed to make sure that they weren’t involved in a hoax, especially after the Amityville incident, one that the Warrens swear was true.
To ensure this, the church sent the Warrens to England to stay with the Hodgson family in order to collect evidence that something supernatural was really happening.
While staying at the home, the Warrens conducted a seance with Janet in order to contact the spirit of Bill Wilkins. Both were convinced the family wasn’t faking anything, so they agreed to allow video cameras to be set up inside and outside the house.
One night a camera caught Janet bending spoons and faking an incident, so the Warrens were forced to pack everything and leave.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after they left that Lorraine was able to have a vision that showed her just what was really happening at the Hodgson residence. The spirit of the old man was just being used as a tool to torment the family, when in reality he was just being used by a demon who wanted a soul. Much to our surprise, the demon turned out to be the same one from the Amityville house.
Luckily in the end the Warrens were able to save the family and banish the demon back to hell. But what about the real Hodgsons? Were they as lucky as the movie’s ending shows, or were they really as tormented as the film made them out to be?
The Real Story
According to the mother, Peggy, everything really started on the night of August 30, 1977. She said that Janet came into her room and told her that her brothers’ beds were shaking.
Thinking it to be silly child’s play, she never put much stock into it, until the next night when she wished she had listened.
While downstairs, Peggy heard a loud noise coming from upstairs. Tracing it back to the daughters’ bedroom, she burst in to find her daughters screaming. Unable to get a clear explanation out of them, she turned to leave the room.
After leaving with her daughters, Peggy turned around for one final inspection, but she was terrified by what she saw. A large oak chest moved across the room and slid against the door.
With the thought that it was trying to trap them in there, her mindset quickly switched to mother mode. She grabbed her children and they all ran across the street to their neighbors, the Nottinghams.
Of course, worried for their neighbors who seemed to be in a great deal of distress, the Nottinghams called the police to come and inspect the Hodgson residence. The first logical explanation that they could think of was someone playing a prank on the family. Who knows?
Maybe they snuck into the house to try and get a good scare out of them. This is what the two police officers were expecting when they inspected the house with the family and neighbors, but that was not what they got.
The officers entered the house, slightly weary, but mainly with one goal in mind. To find the prankster and ensure this family never has to call them again. But the spirit had other plans in mind.
They slowly walked through the house and checked every possible hiding place an intruder could be. Just when they thought that everything was fine and were about to leave, they all witnessed what the officers described as a “large armchair moved, unassisted, four feet across the floor”.
What followed were the most terrifying and excruciating eighteen months of their lives, at least that’s how the Hodgsons described it. During this time, a number of occurrences plagued their family.
Furniture would constantly overturn, toys were thrown by an unseen force, banging could be heard from inside the walls, and writing would also appear on the walls. The next occurrence that terrified Janet especially is still rumored to be fake.
It happened late at night when she was trying to sleep. Janet told interviewers that while she was lying in bed, she felt like she was being watched. After what seemed like hours of trying to fall asleep, she must have because she awoke on the floor.
Assuming she had a sleepwalking episode again, Janet went to get up. Only to discover that she couldn’t move. Suddenly, she could feel it. Around her neck, her bedroom curtains were wrapped tightly, as if they were trying to choke her.
For Peggy, that was the last straw. Without knowing how to find someone that could help them, Peggy turned to the press in order to get their story out into the world. Hoping that someone would come and end their nightmare.
The press company she contacted was The Daily Mirror and they were very intrigued by her story. Obviously, it is unknown whether or not they actually believed her but a story was still a story.
Along with their own employees, a photographer named Graham Morris and an independent paranormal investigator, Maurice Grosse, all showed up to investigate the Hodgson residence.
It was then that things seemed to get worse. According to a 2012 interview with Janet, she told reporters that cups would fill with water, things would burst into flames, and disembodied voices would speak to her.
But that was not the only problem. You see after all the reporters and investigators filled the house, things changed. According to them, nothing happened at first, but after a while, they then began to witness lego pieces flying across rooms.
Maurice Grosse said that when he went to pick one up one time after it was thrown, it was hot to the touch.
At one point, they even claim that a t-shirt flew off the kitchen table all the way to the other side of the room. Out of everything listed so far, the following occurrence is probably the one that is most hard to believe.
According to the girls and Maurice Grosse, they were conducting an interview in the daughters’ room, when Janet started to levitate. She apparently levitated off of her bed and onto the floor, and to prove their claims, he had captured photographs of the supposed incident. But if there were photographs, then why does it seem so hard to believe?
The reason can be found in the photographs themselves, ironically. If you look carefully enough, the stance of Janet’s body and legs appear as if she was only jumping off the bed.
Not only that, but if you compare the three photographs of the incident in a row, she even creates an arch through the room, like someone jumping.
Another one of the most famous parts of the investigation was the documentary aired on BBC that was produced by the Daily Mirror. If you look up the Conjuring 2 real interviews, you will be able to find the video yourself.
It’s relatively similar to how it played out in the movie, just much less dramatic. However, a little chill ran through me when Janet started speaking in a different voice.
It is really quite remarkable to watch. As she sits there on the couch next to her sister, you can see her mouth barely moving, as a deep and withered man’s voice comes out of it. As if it was speaking through her, the spirit said that his name was Bill Wilkins and that he had died from a hemorrhage in the living room.
While the whole ordeal is a little hard to believe, after all a child could always just be playing games, investigators later confirmed that a man by that same name had died in their house.
But the people had the right to be suspicious, as Janet later told interviewers that some of the occurrences were faked, just to see if the investigators would catch them. Such as the girls would bend spoons or be caught banging on the walls with brooms.
Now, when it comes to Ed and Lorraine Warren, their part in the Enfield haunting was much smaller than the movie leads you to believe. In fact, Maurice Grosse said that they just showed up at the house, uninvited, and later left that same day. But whatever data they collected had them convinced that the Hodgsons were not lying.
Unlike in the movie, Ed and Lorraine never stayed to exorcise Janet or anything like that. In fact, a priest had visited the home in the fall of 1978, and that is when Janet said that things began to quiet down.
But they never stopped completely. In order to get away from the strange activity and their past that haunted them, they eventually left the home behind them after Peggy died, in the same chair as Bill Wilkins in the living room.
Based on reports from the family that moved in after the Hodgsons left, things never really stopped. The family said that they would hear voices and occasionally see a man walking into rooms on the first floor.
Obviously, they were not prepared for what the house came with and ended up moving out after only two months.
According to reports from after the investigations officially closed, Peggy had a nervous breakdown. But she wasn’t the only person who suffered.
Janet said that the house was a very traumatizing experience, and she even spent time at a psychiatric hospital afterward because people at school would also bully her and call her “ghost girl”.
Parts That Were Fabricated
Now that the full story has been laid out, let’s go back and look at specific aspects of the movie that were fabricated for dramatic effect. The first is the scene where Janet is in her bedroom and all of the crosses on the wall are turned upside down.
They made it clear that this never happened in real life. The next is the crooked man. While the crooked man itself is a real nursery rhyme, he did not play any part whatsoever in the real story.
As it was made clear earlier, the Warrens actually played a much smaller role than the ones given to them in the movie, and the occurrences never completely ended.
According to Peggy, who continued to live there with her son Billy until she died, she said that she still heard noises every now and then. Billy also stated that he always felt like he was being watched.
But none are as greatly exaggerated as the demon was, more commonly known as Valak the Defiler, the Profane, the Marquis of Snakes. Now, while there was no such evidence of this demon having any part in the real Enfield haunting, the demon itself is a real demon.
Mentions of this demon stretch back as far as centuries, but it doesn’t appear like a nun in the movie. Instead, it is depicted as a child with horns and wings, riding a two-headed dragon.
In fact, James Wan said he only depicted it as a nun in the movie because he wanted something that would mock Lorraine’s faith, and therefore make it more personal for her.
But back in the seventeenth century, Valak instilled fear in many citizens that believed in God. He was first mentioned in the seventeenth-century grimoire titled “Clavicula Salamonis Regis” or “The Key of Solomon”.
According to the text, he got his name because his ability was to find snakes and hidden treasures, all while leading an army of thirty demons. While the Bible never referenced him, “Solomon” was actually listed in the Vatican’s “Index Librorum Prohibitorum” or “List of Prohibited Books”.
This list was surprisingly updated continuously by the church until they decided to scrap it altogether in 1966. But the grimoire itself has supposedly been found in the possession of many Catholic priests.
Due to all of these aspects that were fabricated for the movie, the film itself is an incredible piece of art, as almost any person who appreciates a good story would agree. But when it comes to people believing if the Hodgson family was lying or not, the audience seems to be divided.
The believers out there often give the family the benefit of the doubt, especially fans of the Warrens. While others who believed that this case was a hoax, further used it as evidence that the Warrens were con artists.
Plans For The Future
The Warrens had a long list of sinister cases throughout their career, three of which we have now covered on this website. If you would like to learn more about cases they investigated over the years, stay tuned to a dark memory and scary.fm.
Out of all the cases in their career, the Enfield haunting was probably the most controversial one the Warrens investigated. In fact, to this day people still say that it was a hoax, but the family says otherwise.
We weren’t the ones who lived through it. The trauma that they sustained there continues to haunt the surviving members of the Hodgson family. Despite what you may think, just try to put yourselves in their shoes. A child never forgets something that scares them to their core.