On October 12th, 2018, Netflix released its latest TV series The Haunting of Hill House — a supernatural horror created by Mike Flanagan and loosely based on the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel by the same title. With only ten episodes in the first season, the terrifying series proves to be the stuff made of binging nightmares.
The Haunting of Hill House follows the lives of the Crain family, jumping between past and present. Our story begins in the early 1990’s, when Hugh and Olivia Crain move their five children into “Hill House”–a beautiful, but creepy, mansion they plan to renovate. Things quickly turn sinister, however, as paranormal torment is inflicted upon the entire family; though it is especially dreadful for Olivia and her twin six-year-olds, Luke and Nellie. The episodes switch abruptly between past and present as the audience witnesses the lasting effects of growing up in a haunted house, and how each of the now adult siblings deal with past demons.
After binging the entire series in less than a week, I can confidently say that it is one the best horror TV series I’ve ever seen. In fact, it is one of the best horror stories I’ve ever seen period. With ten hours to unfold, the story is well fleshed out and able to avoid the tendency of horror movies to rush endings due to time constraints and lack of planning. Each character adds a unique and important role, with visible development throughout the season. Beyond strong character development, however, my favourite part of the show had to be the careful attention to detail–nothing is random.
Although jumping between past and present can often lead to a jolting experience for viewers, Flanagan executes it smoothly and deliberately. With timelines blurred, The Haunting of Hill House becomes a reflection of the way real life and grief works; not linear dots clearly laid out, but messy and confusing blobs that spill onto one another. I also greatly appreciated the lack of gore and jump scares just for the sake of entertainment. The horror genre is chalked full of lack luster stories relying heavily on shock value to be considered “scary”. Instead, the subtle use of terrifying figures and creative camera play creates a truly suspenseful and bone-chilling story that will have you hiding behind your pillows.
Beyond the entertaining plot development, the psychological aspects of the Crain’s story really makes you think and question what you believe–or don’t believe–about ghosts, mental health, and how our childhoods shape our futures. Another terrifying bonus? Flanagan has admitted that in several scenes there are ghosts hidden in the background…can you see one in the photo below?
If you’re a lover of scary movies, the supernatural, or just want to get in the Halloween spirit, grab a friend to cuddle with and settle in for what is, in my opinion, the best horror series released on Netflix thus far–no promises that you won’t have to sleep with the lights on!
Watch the trailer here
Gifs taken from Giphy.com