The Conjuring 2 is a rare beast, if you'll spare the metaphor. That is, it's a horror sequel that works. Like comedies, horror films are notoriously difficult to reproduce in a sequel, because their effect is dependent upon the unexpected. Once you've seen something once, then it's no longer unexpected. But The Conjuring 2 manages to do something new while still building on the original film, and created quite a few new scares in the process. That's especially remarkable since the film is based on a true story, and makes me wonder what happened to the real Conjuring 2 family?
In the film, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (the protagonists from The Conjuring, and based on the paranormal investigators of the same name) travel to London to investigate the Enfield home of the Hodgson family. The Hodgsons claim that they're being haunted by a poltergeist, with their middle child, 11-year-old Janet Hodgson, exhibiting signs of being possessed by an old man named Bill Wilkins — the deceased previous owner of the house. Objects move on their own around the house, Janet speaks with a demonic disembodied voice, and is also seen to levitate. But could any of this stuff have really happened to the family? According to the Hodgsons, it's all true.
As the story goes, the bizarre occurrences began in 1977 when Janet and her younger brother, Johnny, began to hear shuffling noises in their bedroom. They then witnessed a chest of drawers slide across the room by itself, and that's when they realized that something truly bizarre was going on. The noises continued over the next few days in the form of unexplained knocking inside the walls. Fearful that someone was inside the house, Janet's mother Peggy called the police, and the arriving officer claims to have witnessed a chair move across the floor unaided. As more people showed up to investigate, more strange things began to happen. Toys would fly around the room, Janet was photographed being flung across her bedroom by an unseen force, and she would sometimes speak in the voice of Wilkins; even revealing how he died in one session — details that were later corroborated by his son.
But not everyone is convinced the Enfield Haunting was legitimate. Many skeptics claim that the entire ordeal was a prank orchestrated by the children, even claiming that Janet was a gifted ventriloquist. Janet herself even admitted to faking some of the events, as she told The Telegraph's Will Storr in an interview. "There was times when things would happen and times when they wouldn't," Janet said. "Sometimes, if things didn't happen, you'd somehow feel you'd failed ... That's pretty much it. Plus you'd get bored and frustrated at all the people coming and going. I mean, life wasn't normal." When asked how much of the haunting was phony, she replied, "I'd say 2 percent."
The only people who know for sure what happened are the Hodgson family members themselves; specifically Janet. And since she's still claiming that most of the supernatural events that took place really happened to her, I will not be sleeping for the next week.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures