The Haunting of Hill House premieres October 12th on Netflix.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Chris Flanagan
In order to best experience The Haunting of Hill House, I urge you to give the series two things:
1. Your attention
2. Your patience
If given, this show will transport you to a place that is rarely felt in TV’s current landscape. I must confess, Haunting of Hill House is my favorite style of horror in that it relies on a more psychological and subtle approach to produce scares by letting the viewer’s mind to do most of the work. It’s a method that works extremely well for this particular series and is conducted in such a way that I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I finished.
Haunting of Hill House centers around the Crain family, the father and mother, Hugh and Olivia, and their five children, Steven, Shirley, Theo, Luke, and Nell. The family moves into Hill House, which boasts being the most haunted house in America, as an effort to flip it to later sell. While living there, each family member has various brushes with the supernatural which results in Olivia’s sudden suicide. The family, driven to leave under the circumstances, is forced to grow up without any explanation from their father resulting in an irreparable fracture among the surviving members as they enter into adulthood. It isn’t until another death in the family occurs, that they begin to reconnect with one another and slowly begin to realize that the house is calling them back for an unknown reason.
Adding to the show’s distinctiveness, every episode is told as an individual chapter that focuses on a member of the Crain family and what makes its delivery so unique is the way that the story oscillates between the past of Hill House and the character’s current path. As the stories begin to connect, a larger narrative is formed that expertly balances multiple timelines with the common thread being how each sibling has attempted to deal with their unexplained grief. For me, therein lies the deeper level the show excels at as it reaches far beyond typical horror, instead choosing to also include a compelling character study based on a family tragedy that leaves its members destroyed and left to pick up the pieces in an effort to heal.
As I mentioned earlier, Haunting of Hill House resonated with me on such a grand scale because it satisfied the most enjoyable way to experience horror. Most entertainment within the genre rely on jump scares or gore as tools to further a story along or in some cases completely distract from the lack of one. Hill House’s ability to have the viewer create fear within their minds while also exploring the dark nature of a presence of evil that is haunting the family is masterfully accomplished and gains momentum with each passing episode. It cleverly uses what we have grown accustomed to in the current state of horror against ourselves by keeping you constantly on edge expecting that something will happen but, in fact, it rarely does which better serves the times that scary things do actually happen which rest assured are quite prevalent throughout the show. I understand that I might possibly be outside the norm for the typical reaction for this show, however, I fully believe that in order to be entertained by Haunting of Hill House you must completely buy into the show’s premise and give it your full attention. The lesson in patience comes through its methodical pacing and unfolding of its story but there is a reason for this that is completely realized by the series’ end.
I know that show’s such as these might be an acquired taste, but I urge you if you have the time and ability to eliminate outside distractions Haunting of Hill House is worth your time and investment. It’s not only terrifying but also beautiful in many ways and its journey was something I have not experienced watching a television series in quite some time. Without question, this should be your next binge watch.
I give The Haunting of Hill House an A+.