This Is Why You Should Definitely Watch “The Haunting of Hill House”

The Haunting of Hill House tells the story of the Crain family, going back and forth in time between 1992, when the family first moved to Hill House, and the present days, when we see the consequences of the brief time they spent in the house. It seems like the typical scary plot: a family moves to a house, the house turns out to be haunted, the family has to run for their lives. That is what we expect from the TV show when we start watching it, but it is so much more. It’s actually a family drama. But, don’t get me wrong, it’s still terrifying.

The TV series is based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror novel of the same name, which is considered one of the best ghost stories written in the last century. The Netflix’s version, although borrowing only a few key elements from the novel, is not far from that. It is what true horror should be about: terrifying and disturbing, mostly on a psychological level, in a way that keeps you up at night and afraid to look into that dark corner in your bedroom. I mean, I had nightmares. The show does not rely on jump scares, most of the ghosts are actually hidden in plain sight, they just require a little bit of attention to be noticed. 

Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix via IMDb

But not only was I terrified, I was fascinated by the show and its characters. Hugh (Henry Thomas/Timothy Hutton) and Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino), the parents, work renovating houses and selling them, so the family was always moving around. During one summer, they lived in the Hill House and were harassed by ghosts the whole time (some people more than others). However, one night something happened that drove Hugh to take the children from the house and run away with them. That was the same night that Olivia died and no one really knows the circumstances in which that happened, except for Hugh, who told everyone it was a suicide. Each episode focuses in a specific character, starting with the children and then moving on to the parents in such a way that the story develops like putting together pieces of a puzzle.

As we unravel the mystery, we also find out more about the Crain children. Steve (Michiel Huisman/Paxton Singleton), the oldest and most skeptical one, wrote a book about their experience at the Hill House and is getting divorced from his wife. Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser/Lulu Winson) now owns a mortuary with her husband and both are dangerously close to go bankrupt, because she keeps lowering the costs of her service to help her clients. Theo (Kate Siegel/Mckenna Grace) is a child psychologist and is currently living on Shirley’s guest house. Nell (Victoria Pedretti/Violet McGraw), the youngest, is still struggling with her experiences at the house and Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen/Julian Hilliard), her twin brother, is in rehab dealing with his drug addiction. These characters are so well written that you actually care about them and it hurts when they’re in pain. Can we even pick a favorite Crain? It’s hard – but, in the meantime, you can find out which Crain sibling you are in this Buzzfeed test.

The death of one of the siblings is what brings the family back together, forces them to relive those months at the Hill House and leads the children to finally confront their father about what truly happened all those years ago. Seeing how they are all still being haunted by the entities from the house and by Olivia’s constant presence is, to say the least, very frightening. The show functions on the basic premise that the house isn’t done with the Crains yet and that running away from it had just delayed the inevitable: they are all still connected to Hill House at least on some level. 

Image credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix via IMDb

But while spending time at the Hill House, the Crain family wasn’t simply being haunted by ghosts. As the story progresses we can see them deteriorating mentally, specially Olivia. And because we get to see the story from different points of view, some more skeptical than others, there is always several questions we ask ourselves. Is it real or are they just imagining everything? Is Olivia really seeing all those ghosts? Is Nellie really being haunted by the ghost she calls The Bent-Neck Lady? Is the Tall Man really appearing for Luke? These answers are up to you, the viewer: you can believe in Steve’s explanation that they are all suffering from a mental illness, or you can believe that the house is haunted. That’s why the story is so engaging, you watch the 10 episodes and just really want to know what the hell is going on. Why is Hugh keeping all those secrets? What is he trying to protect his children from? 

The Haunting of Hill House is definitely binge material. You’ll be scared out of your mind and cry at the same time. You’ll spend the entire marathon conjuring up theories and there are ghost “easter eggs” you can look for. A good time is guaranteed. Check out the trailer bellow, which will leave you a bit disturbed and just really curious to watch the whole thing as soon as possible. And after you finish the TV show, make sure to watch this video, cause Carla Gugino gives some interesting insights on the story.