October’s a scream for cable networks

By Paula Hendrickson
Television columnist

If you like horror shows, October is probably your favorite month. From campy (Fox’s coed slasher series Scream Queens, starring the original Scream Queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis) to gory (The Walking Dead) there’s something for all horror fans.

Scream Queens is from the same minds that created FX’s darker American Horror Story franchise; its latest incarnation – American Horror Story: Hotel, starring Lady Gaga along with many returning cast members – premieres Wednesday. Season six of AMC’s fan favorite, The Walking Dead, returns Sunday, just in time to get viewers psyched up for Halloween.

But if you want a really scary horror fix, check out A&E’s new miniseries The Enfield Haunting.

The mini-series, set in 1977, is based on a real-life account of what’s purported to be the most-documented poltergeist activity in the world. The script is adapted from the non-fiction book, “This House is Haunted”, by Guy Lyon Playfair, who also served as a co-writer of the screenplay. Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5, Ripper Street) portrays Playfair in the miniseries.

Perhaps the scariest thing about The Enfield Haunting is that it’s not filled with blood, guts and gore. The setting is an average English home occupied by a fairly normal family – a mom, three of her four bickering kids (one brother is at boarding school), and their pet canary. You quickly realize the scariest things are often those that unseen.

The cast is what really sells the suspenseful story. As the fairly new paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse, Timothy Spall (The Kings’ Speech) brings a sense of calm and stability to the Hodgson family, especially to the 12-year-old daughter, Janet, remarkably well played by Eleanor Worthington-Cox (Maleficent). Juliet Stevenson – who could well be one of the busiest actresses in England, considering the number of film and television roles she does every year—plays Grosse’s wife, Betty, but she was only in a couple scenes in the first episode. Since they cast an actress of her caliber as Betty, I imagine we’ll see more of her in the final two installments.

I don’t want to give much away about The Enfield Haunting, but because the actual case was so well documented, if you want to know it’s certainly easy to find details online. But you’ll still want to watch the miniseries to see the dramatized version of the story play out. You just might not want to watch it late at night like I did with part one.

The sheer averageness of the people and places in The Enfield Haunting is what makes it scarier than a boatload of fake bodies and severed limbs could ever be.

Programming Notes

The Enfield Haunting airs Fridays, October 9, 16 and 23 at 9 p.m. on A&E.

Scream Queens airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. on Fox.

American Horror Story: Hotel premieres Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.

The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 8 p.m. on AMC.

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