The Haunting of Hill House
Very loosely based on the novel by Shirley Jackson of the same name The Haunting of Hill House is at its heart a family drama disguised as a ghost story.
This shouldn’t be a spoiler, but Hill House is haunted. It is very very haunted. Yet, this is a different story than the one you may be familiar with. The original story is about a group of strangers who meet up for a supernatural experiment within this notoriously haunted home. You may have even seen the 1963 classic titled The Haunting or even the 1999 film (though the 1999 was not so well received). This new Netflix original series, however, takes the story in a very different direction. Yet, I would say that this adaptation captures the essences of Jackson’s gothic horror novel better than any of the adaptations that came before it.
We meet the Crain family sometime in the 1990’s. Olivia and Hugh Crain are professional house flippers and Hill House is their next project. Their last big project before they have enough money to build their “forever home” (just one last job ya see). Along with them are their five children, Steven (the oldest), Shirley, Theodora, and the twins: Eleanor and Luke. I’m sure for those of you who are fans of the novel/film adaptations, you’ll recognize some of these names.
That was something I was very pleased about with the Netflix series. There are tons of nods to the original novel. Whether it be Nell’s cup of stars, motifs or specific lines, the series makes sure to pay tribute to the novel while doing something that feels fresh and new.
The series intercuts between this family’s time in Hill House and their present lives as adults dealing with the aftermath of that house. We get to see how each one of the children were affected by what they saw and somethings that they never quite understood.
The Haunting of Hill House is an accomplishment in storytelling and camera work. The story is often told out of order or incompletely. Like a puzzle it’s not until you get to the end that the picture reveals it’s self. There are many gorgeous wide shots that show the house for it’s imposing nature and there are many slow reveals that make the goosebumps appear at the back of your next; but pay particular attention to the gorgeous camera choreography of Episode 6.
I don’t want to over sale the scares in this show, but I’m going to. Watching this show made me remember what it was to want to sleep with a nightlight. I had to ration out episodes because if I watched too many, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep that night. This was a show that got under my skin and stayed with me even when I had stopped watching. That is the mark of a great show.
This show delivers the scares and the creeps, but it is the heart of the show concerning the family that will be sure to bring you back each episode. This is a family grieving for ones lost and those who may still be lost to the house. This house which holds so many secrets that its more than one family can bear sometimes.
PS. Just a little tip: be sure to pay attention to the background in any wide shot, there might just be something lurking in the shadows.