The Haunting of Hill House is Terryfing and Worth the Watch

Horror as a genre has never been a favorite of mine, both because of my personal preference of avoiding jumpscares, and because outside of classics like Stephen King, I generally think of horror as badly made with all the focus on scaring the audience and nothing else, sucking out any interest outside of making people scream.    

Still, I decided to take a chance and watch the new Netflix original series The Haunting of Hill House, an adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. You may remember Jackson as the author of the short story The Lottery that you read in your AP Lit class. The series is absolutely nothing like the book, but it takes the classic horror and mystery of Jackson and gives it new, modern twists and turns.

I lost more than a little sleep over the series, but I’d recommend the show to anyone regardless of your feelings on horror. It’s more than just a scary show - and trust me, it is absolutely terrifying - but it’s an artistic masterpiece with an incredible cast. The series is equal parts horror and family drama and has a beating, emotional heart at its center.

The series focuses on the Crain family; the five Crain siblings and their parents spend a summer at an old manor called Hill House in the past. Though they don’t realize it’s haunted at the time, the family goes through a series of horrific, traumatizing events before everything culminates in a single night of escape.

The series flashes back and forward between the Crains as children and as adults twenty-five years later who are still deeply traumatized by everything that happened to them. Each sibling has a beautiful, well-drawn story that makes you both frustrated and sympathetic toward them. The first five episodes of the series each focus on a single sibling, their story, and how they became the person they are today. It gives you time to really know the characters deeply before the plot of the here and now is set in motion.

If you are a fan of horror, the series won’t disappoint you. There are jump scares galore, and some truly harrowing images of what happens to the children in Hill House. There are some truly incredible plot twists that will shock any casual viewer. What’s really terrifying is how many hidden ghosts there are in frames and shots that attention is never drawn to. The ghosts are always lurking in the background.

 

If you’re like me and being scared out of your mind isn’t your idea of a good time, there’s still so much to appreciate about Hill House. The shooting of the series is amazing to watch; the hour-long episode six is only four camera shots in total.

The child actors are also such a joy to watch; all five are supremely talented and it’s harrowing to watch them go through so much. Whoever cast the show did an amazing job; each of the child actors looks so much like their adult counterparts.

The high stakes of the show don’t come from the horror, but from the family drama at its center. Each sibling goes through such an individual and wrenching journey throughout the series, and it's rooting for them to overcome and repair their relationships with one another that makes the scares even worse. You want the characters to survive because it’s hard not to see yourself in them. Even when you know a character is going to die, you still hold out hope for a happy ending.

Whether you love or hate horror, The Haunting of Hill House is more than just a run-of-the-mill Halloween watch. It’s horrifying and heart-wrenching with some real emotions behind it, and it’s well worth giving the show a try.