By Nguyen Khanh Ha Doan
It’s that spooky time of the year again when everything turns orange and the horrors are coming out. This month I decided to check out the new Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House, based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. I must say, I’m as impressed as Stephen King. Given a rating of 9.0 on IMDB, the series is this seasons’ most anticipated and welcomed horror project.
I’ve been watching horrors since I was young and I am confident to say that most of the scary movies out there (even the Conjuring) did not scare me as much as The Haunting of Hill House. I was on the edge of my couch most of the time, and by the end of the series, I begged my friend to not leave me watching it alone. There weren’t a lot of jump-scares (good news for your heart) but the build-ups were brilliant, and I totally agree with Stephen King’s comment saying how much Jackson would love this live-action revisal as much as he did.
The series follows the Crain family, who bought the Hill House in order to flip it over to sell it by the end of the summer. Your first impression when you see the Crains is that they’re perfect; a perfect family with perfect children with a perfect life. But the more perfect they are, the more pressure they’re under to maintain this idyllic illusion. Behind the facade they put up is the destruction of each family member.
The mother, Olivia, is a lovely, kind-hearted and mother who took care of the kids while her husband, Hugh, worked on fixing the house.
The kids, Steven, Shirley, Theo, Luke and Nell, each have their own problems to deal with but they are unable to open up and share their difficulties, causing them to distance from each other.
The series is more than just a fictional horror, it’s a story of exaggeration of our everyday problems. It’s about how we all can be vulnerable to our own demons; we have chances to reach out for help but most of the time we’re unable to do so. It tackles a problem we all face: secrecy, and the subsequent fear of being exposed (which may even be scarier than ghosts).
Mike Flanagan, the creator, did a brilliant job (perhaps even Emmy-worthy) in building up fear throughout the ten episodes of the show. There are very few jump scares in this series, but it manages to make you feel extreme anxiety and terror by way of the frightful environment and atmosphere it conveys. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, it keeps you wanting more, it makes you keep asking “why?” all the time. Honestly, you won’t regret binge-watching the entire series on a school night and feeling sleepy in class the next day, because it’s worth it. But maybe sleep with the light for a few nights after.