The Haunting of Hill House crashed onto Netflix just in time for Halloween but does the world want yet another American supernatural horror television series? We are already dealing with American Horror Story a once wild innovative series that has become a domesticated plastic mess so is this show worthy of our time? The answer is yes. Created by Mike Flanagan and loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House looks not only upon supernatural hauntings but also of the psychological hauntings we all live with.
Before you begin watching you need to understand that The Haunting of Hill House is carefully constructed in a way that unravels the deeper you go into the house. I would recommend giving it three episodes before you give up on the show. This is not a spoon fed wrapped up in 45 minutes plot made clear type series. It is an investment of your time that does pay off in the end.
What you get are some of the usual haunted house tropes that befall the Crain family that you have seen a million times but across a past and a present timeline which details the psychological hauntings and scaring such tragic traumas can have on a human being. You see the after effects and how it impacts a family as they try to come to terms with events that unfold in the series.
As the show takes place on two timelines, the present day Crain’s and their younger selves when they moved into the house, it can often be difficult to get actors to match up and thus you are thrown out of following the movie. This is not the case at all in The Haunting of Hill House. One bit that did stump me was I spent six episodes trying to work out where I knew the younger version of (the Father) Hugh Crain from before realising it was Henry Thomas aka Elliott from E.T.
It is hard to write a review without giving too much away but I would honestly say this show is more a mystery show (in some ways like LOST) than a horror. Sure there are some scary freaky scenes but the real horrors lay in what those scenes represent. As the layers unravel each character deals with their own hauntings both in a physical and metaphorical way.
The level of detail in the show is crazy, if you go back and rewatch episodes you will be shocked at what you missed in the backgrounds! The acting is top-notch but if I had one complaint it might lay with the pacing. Like a lot of Netflix series it seems that they are stretched too long. Perhaps an 8 episode series might have made the excellent show even better and sharpened the fear spear that stabbed us through it.
Verdict: 9/10 – An excellent series that begins on familiar ground, and like the house in the show, takes us to all sorts of places we never expected to go and lets us experience and grow with the characters we meet. This is more than a horror show and is better for it. The story was told fully so please do not ruin this with a second series.