Jeepers!: Scaredy Cat’s Review of The Haunting Series on Netflix

 

In a surprising turn of events, I was asked by a reader to review Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. I don’t think I’ve ever received a formal request to write about anything, so, despite my apprehension surrounding this spooky series, I accepted.

 

Y’all. I was terrified.

 

I was watching Hill House in broad daylight and I still walked around the house in fear. While I saw most of the jump-scares coming (and I was terrified the whole time), I actually screamed once... while my sister was in class in the other room.

 

Sorry, kiddo.

 

I ended up loving both seasons (Hill House and Bly Manor both only had one season and are considered separate “titles,”... it's similar to American Horror Story).

 

So to recap, The Haunting is considered an anthology series (like AHS) where many actors return to play different roles in a different story, but The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor are separate squares on the website, but they are made by most of the same people.

 

With me so far?

 

Imagine my surprise, while researching the facts for this prelude, that the same man writing The Haunting series also wrote Hush (along with Kate Siegal, who stars in both The Haunting seasons, as well as stars as the main character for Hush). 

 

I loved Hush. While I didn’t write an article solely about it, it made it onto my first scary movie listicle. 

 

Unfortunately, there are no plans for another season of The Haunting at the moment, but a similar series (with some return actors) is in the works.

 

Now, you don’t need to watch Hill House to understand Bly Manor. You can watch Bly Manor and then go back to Hill House. It truly is your prerogative to skip around at your convenience. Bly Manor has fewer jump-scares and is overall less spooky and more wholesome than Hill House

 

SPOILER WARNING: Everything here is a spoiler. All of it. 

 

Haunting of Hill House

 

I do best when spooky stories are localised to a place I’ll never go, so the House being the bad guy here was very comforting. 

 

You know what wasn’t comforting? My favorite character dying in the first episode. 

 

While that totally sucked, I really enjoyed that the plot was driven by the characters, not the other way around. Despite the terror I felt whenever that spine-tingling music started playing, the conclusion of this story felt like a warm hug for the soul. While things weren’t ideal, it seems like everyone found peace in the ending that they received.

 

I’ve decided that the best way to review it would be to rank the siblings most to least favorite. So here we go!

 

1. Eleanor (Nell) Crain (Vance)––Victoria Pedretti

Maybe I’m just a sucker for Victoria Pedretti (I basically copied her character Love Quinn from You when I redid my aesthetic {with much less murder}), but I was really rooting for Nelly to get the character arc that her twin (Luke) later got. While she got the short straw (being murdered by the demon house), she saved her siblings from the same fate and seemed at peace with her father and mother in the house.

 

2. Theodora (Theo) Crain––Kate Siegal

My second favorite character? Theodora Crain. Kate Siegal playing a lesbian with psychic powers? How could you not like her. Her nice little arc about letting feelings (and people) in, which culminates in her marrying Trish, felt very cathartic. Bury your gays is out, psychic lesbians who grew up in a murder house are in. Please.

 

3. Luke Crain––Oliver Jackson-Cohen

I spent the entire series feeling like there was something more to Luke than we saw. I’m glad that I was right. While it looks like he’s just wandering around trying to get his next fix, he maintains his sobriety until the demon house ruins it for him. In the end he’s shown celebrating two years of sobriety.

 

4. Shirley Crain Harris––Elizabeth Reaser 

Shirley really bugged me. I felt like she was the worst version of what I could have been. She is a huge control freak and seems to be neglectful and is suspicious to her husband, who’s honestly a pretty good dude. SHE ALSO CHEATED ON THE DUDE SHE WAS SUSPICIOUS TOWARDS! That’s too hypocritical for me. 

 

5. Steven Crain––Michiel Huisman

Steven suffers from not only Eldest-Sibling-Syndrome, but White-Man-Writer-Syndrome. That is, he neglects his entire family for the sake of his “craft”. And then forgets to tell his family that his wife ditched him for being Steven. He also writes the whole family drama into a book, and then gets a little peeved when his siblings told him they didn’t appreciate the way he wrote about their dead mother. Yikes, dude.

 

All in all, I’d give it an 7/10 on the Scaredy Cat Spook Meter. 

 

Haunting of Bly Manor

 

British accents give me Doctor Who flashbacks, but the timeline for this series was also pretty wibbly-wobbly.

 

Set in the 1980’s outside of London, Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) applies for a governess job to outrun some ~spicy backstory~.

 

I won’t rank my favorite characters (because I actually really liked them all in their character role) but I will list out a couple of things that really shocked me.

 

1. HANNAH GROSE WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME!

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US PETER/MILES? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US? I felt so bad for her and Owen, because they were very clearly the best OTP within the series (yes I liked Dani and Jamie too, but Hanowen should have been endgame). 

 

2. Dani’s sacrifice (and the prolonged AIDS metaphor????) stopped me in my tracks.

It didn’t happen all at once, but I felt the sense of dread the entire last episode. I was pretty bummed out that both of these rad relationships ended in sadness. 

 

3. Every single romantic relationship here (barring Flora’s) failed or ended miserably.

You know I’m right. Owen and Hannah never got to be a canon couple, Dani ended up in the lake, Peter literally murdered Rebecca, and the parents’ marital problems ended in their (presumably) fiery deaths. No traditional happy ending here.

 

Although, there seems to be a theme here in the endings of both shows. Both shows have characters who just have to push through and make the best out of their new lives (or afterlives). There’s something poetic about Owen’s restaurant becoming a reality. Something, dare I say, tender in Jaime’s flower shop. Henry takes full responsibility for the kids, the ghosts are freed, and Dani still gets ten years with Jaime.

 

The bittersweet moral of the story really gets to you. I haven’t cried from a TV show since The Good Place ended. And the endings for both these shows are so similar to that narrative, it almost makes you want to write about the feelings they give you.

 

I think my thoughts on this story are best summarized by one of the last lines of the story.

 

“You said it was a ghost story. It isn’t. It’s a love story.”

“Same thing really.”