Review – The Enfield Haunting

By Adam Lock
Published: September 25, 2017 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)

Back in the 1970s, a house in Enfield, London appeared to be possessed by something supernatural. The Enfield Haunting is a retelling of the events that took place there.

Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall) is part of a council that investigates claims of haunted houses. He is called to the house in Enfield to see about a young girl, Janet (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) who has heard things go bump in the night and seemingly is taken over by the force behind these peculiar goings on. Guy Playfair (Matthew MacFadyen) is a writer who has also heard of the events going on in this house, but is sceptical about everyone’s views on the matter. Nonetheless, he and Maurice team up to find out what’s really going on and the cause behind it.

Now, I have to say that I was very excited for this highly-anticipated three part drama. The cast, headed by Spall and MacFadyen, was excellent; and an interview with one of the stars revealed that when he was first approached to take part he had refused because he was petrified by the script. Greatness awaits, I thought. And I was correct in thinking so. The first episode was tremendously sinister. Wardrobes shuffled across floors, teapots spontaneously chattered, and a fully grown man was thrown across a room, to name but a few of the frightening goings on.

However, I am fairly gutted to inform you that this frightfully entertaining pace could not be sustained. In fact, The Enfield Haunting seemed to suffer the TV equivalent of an erectile dysfunction because after that amazing opening episode, the standard went downhill, and I’m afraid to tell you there was no chance of it getting back up.

The real shameful thing about the storyline being so limp was the fact that there was the excellent leading men that were Spall and MacFadyen trying so hard to keep the whole thing going. There was also brilliant young talent of Eleanor Worthington-Cox as Janet Hodgson that you just feel had so much to offer, yet due to the plot she was given, just wasn’t able to reveal what she was really capable of.

Spall as the heartbroken Maurice gave a very moving performance. Maurice is an old man still grieving his daughter’s death from a motorbike accident, and forms a special bond with Janet who clearly reminds him of his late daughter.

Matthew MacFadyen rather upset me at the beginning when he appeared as Guy – not for any serious reason, but just purely for the fact that Guy Playfair was a very arrogant, jumped up little man right at the start and I am more used to MacFadyen as the heroic Inspector Edmund Reid in the good, old, trusty Ripper Street. However, despite how much I might not have liked his character, he did act as a bit of an antagonist and, let’s face it, the plot needed something against it to liven it up a bit.

Throughout the whole three episodes, tension was built up terrifically – it just never amounted to anything massive in the end, which was disappointing, especially after the interview that I mentioned right at the start. In all honesty, I think it’s fair to say I found The Enfield Haunting to be something of a damp squid. It tried to be the best thing since sliced bread, but somehow I think this was its undoing because it just felt as though it was trying too hard to be different, or to be scary or, quite simply, was trying too hard to be clever. I mean, come on! The whole “plot twist” at the end – seriously?

All in all, what I’m trying to say is there was no need for anyone to waste three hours of their life over three weeks for this, because it could very easily be summed up in under five minutes. However, I would hate to deprive you of finding out just how underwhelming The Enfield Haunting is, so I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll just have to decide for yourself – that is, of course, if you have no qualms in spending three hours of your life doing something that you really wouldn’t consider spending three minutes on.

TV, TV Reviews