The Haunting of Hill House

Last night, Tim and I sat down for a long-anticipated evening with wine, chips and Netflix. A friend had mentioned a new show that had received exceptional high praise, with an impressive 9.1 on IMDB. Little did we know, we were about to watch one hell of a scary show!

The Haunting of Hill House has acquired an international acclaim, appreciation and approval, where Stephen King even called it “a work of a genius”. While I had seen the trailer, I hadn’t thought the series would become such a hit, since the horror genre is a category meant for only a select few who have the iron nerves to endure them. Both us are not particularly made of that kind of material and naturally, the trailer had already freaked me out. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the large number of fans it had accumulated in the short amount of time it was released.  Although reports claim that viewers have rated the shows so disturbing that they’re unable to sleep, had anxiety attacks from it and sometimes even faint or vomit (!), it has been a gothic homerun for the Netflix show.

According to the reviews, its popularity is due to the way the show distinguishes itself from the regular horror ones, by implementing a truly fascinating, in-depth and moving storyline and the ‘little things’ they’ve paid attention to. Director Mike Flanagan, a veteran in the horror genre, based the series on the novel by Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House, although made it mainly his own in the end. In a fascinating interview by The Vulture,  Mike Flanagan sheds some light on the differences between the novel and the series and why he’s made those choices. I think one of the largest changes he’s made is that the ghosts are not actual ghosts, but rather haunting memories of the past. He says, “there’s nothing more boring than a normal ‘ghost’. For us, the ghosts that were the most interesting were the ones that we create ourselves, throughout our lives.” That particular touch provides an amazing psychological depth to every character and the show in general since it reveals a visible ‘traumatic’ experience(s) for every main personality.

Mike Flanagan has given the viewers another extra thing that’s rather unusual but has encaptured many and lead many to rewatch the whole show again (I don’t know how they’d do it). Namely, every episode has a number of ‘hidden ghosts’, that require a keen eye to spot. Some are hidden in the shadows of a corner, whereas others are placed in broad daylight but are still missed since the attention of the scene is not focussed on it. If you’re interested to find them all without rewatching it, The Vulture has found all 29 horror Easter Eggs!

If you’re looking for a perfect show to get you into the Halloween mood, I’d recommend watching The Haunting of Hill House. Although the first episode gave me such a startle that I had nightmares throughout the night and still feel a bit antsy walking around in the dark, I might give episode 2 a go soon. I’ve ordered the book to read, which will hopefully be less scary!