The Haunting of Hill House is a frightful reimagined psychological masterpiece of a brilliant classic story.
The Haunting of Hill House is a supernatural horror ghost story based on the classic novel and masterpiece of the same name written by Shirley Jackson. It’s a truthful reimagining of the psychological themes, but tells a bigger and different story with more themes than the intimate original story.
It’s a stylish gorgeous looking series that is made with care, creativity, intelligence and an in-depth analyses of the human psyche in relation to family and of course haunting events in childhood. It is as much a psychological drama as it is a horror ghost story and has a few fun surprises lurking in every corner of the house.
The first season consists of 10 episodes each with a duration of 42-71 minutes. It has unconventional storytelling and requires attention. It is a story that deserves to be watched several times for different reasons.
In 1992 the Crain family moves into Hill House to renovate it and sell it. It is supposed to be the last renovation before they built the home of their dreams. But Hill House is haunted and their happy lives are going to be changed forever that summer, resulting in the death of mother Olivia.
Years later the estranged family comes together after the youngest sister Nell has died. Not only are they about to find out what really happend to Nell, but what happend to Olivia as well. While each member of the family struggles with their own demons, the house still haunts them.
Why you should watch it
The series looks gorgeous and is told in a very stylish and beautiful way. It’s told non-chronologically and with flashbacks the viewer is shown what happend back then and what is happening now, while past and present are about to collide.
In each episode we follow a different family member and the story of what happend then and now is told through their personal perspective, making it a very intimate and intense watch. We start with Steve the oldest brother who exposes supposed paranormal events. Shirley the oldest sister runs a funeral home with her husband. Her younger sister Theo lives in their garage and is a child-psychologist. Luke the youngest brother and Nell’s twin brother is a drugs addict, while Nell is balancing at the edge of a haunting abyss.
They all are suffering from personal fears. Steve is afraid to become like his mother and Nell, who according to him suffered from depression, psychoses and hallucinations. Shirley is a controlfreak. Theo is afraid to be touched and wears gloves, just like her mother. Luke is afraid of reality and escapes it by using drugs. Nell has sleep paralyses and has anxieties and depressions. Hugh wants to protect his children from monsters, while Olivia is trying to protect them from the world outside. The complex relationships, increased by the house as an accelerator, are the onset of their vulnerability to the real ghosts and hauntings. But their personal “gifts” are a big part of it too.
Each storyline is a piece of the puzzle, while in every episode more is revealed of the haunting events. Each episode also shows more about the characters, in a way that after the last episode everything falls into place in a very imaginative and creative way. It then becomes a heartbreaking story that delivers a gripping emotional drama.
Every episode is a little masterpiece on its own. Each episode brings in new perspectives, a new tone and atmosphere and each episode has its own personal style and cinematography befitting the key character. Episode six is a whole new level of brilliance and it’s absolutely stunning and marvelous. Five scenes shot in five long single-takes are very impressive. It’s hypnotizing and foreboding but reveals some important clues to the story as well.
It’s both a horror story and a drama. The supernatural happenings are beautifully intertwined with the real drama and personal hauntings. The storytelling is excellent and the way the story is filmed is absolutely gorgeous. The characters are really fleshed-out and each have their own in-depth development throughout the series which are connected with the drama and supernatural elements of the story. It is visually appealing, emotionally gripping, but also very scary and the structure is artistically outstanding.
My favorite part
The sixth episode is beautifully done and visually and technically one of the best. But each episode, each personal story is a little masterpiece and although each episode is a little story on its own, the sum is even greater than its parts.
But apart from all this drama, insightful psychological studies of character and its stunning art decoration and settings, there is much more to the story.
Who claim a big part of the series are the ghosts themselves. The Bent-Neck Lady who haunts Nell is absolutely terrifying, as is the Tall Man with the bowler hat who haunts Luke. There are also former residents of the house long since deceased who haunt Olivia and are manipulative and malicious. These ghosts are a visible and crucial part of the story.
The fun part is, there are many more. Hidden behind a door, a window, under the table, in the background, merged into the wall, showing up at unexpected moments. The best part is that when you watch the series a second time around, you can go ghost haunting yourself. It is actually quite hard to spot them all, and its not fun to be at it the first time, because you’ll need all your focus to be on the story. Not only provide these ghosts a fun element but when you spot them accidentally they’ll give you a little fright as well.
It’s so cleverly done and it really shows craftsmanship of great storytelling to built in these hidden ghosts, while managing to tell an emotionally charged and scary as hell story as well, which on top of all this, is filmed in a most excellent and creative way.
It is always difficult to make a series of an acclaimed classic horror novel written by one of the best horror writers of the 20th century. But this reimagining is magnificent, telling a whole new story with the solid foundation of the book, with respect for the original story, but gives it new twists and turns that lifts up the haunted house genre in a most compelling way.
Scare factor: ★★★★★
Drama factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Read more about The Haunting of Hill House:
Cast and crew
The Haunting of Hill House is based on the novel of the same name written by Shirley Jackson in 1959. It is created by Mike Flanagan. It stars Timothy Hutton (Hugh), Carla Gugino (Olivia), Michiel Huisman (Steve), Elizabeth Reaser (Shirley), Kate Siegel (Theo), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Luke), Victoria Pedretti (Nell), Henry Thomas (young Hugh), Paxton Singleton (young Steve), Lulu Wilson (young Shirley), Mckenna Grace (young Theo), Julian Hilliard (young Luke), Violet McGraw (young Nell), Annabeth Gish (Mrs. Dudley), Robert Longstreet (Mr. Dudley) and Olive Elise Abercrombie (Abigail).
Music: The Newton Brothers. Cinematography: Michael Fimognari. Edited by: Jim Flynn, Brian Jeremiah Smith, Ravi Subramanian. Production companies: Amblin Television, FlanaganFilm, Paramount Television. Original network: Netflix.