Netflix has done it again: the streaming service has gifted us with another stunning original series. The Haunting of Hill House join the ranks of other wonderful Netflix productions such as Castlevania, Stranger Things, Big Mouth, A Series of Unfortunate Events and BoJack Horseman. Based on a book written by author Shirley Jackson in the 1950s, The Haunting of Hill House consists of ten engaging episodes, which artfully combine family drama and supernatural horror to create an unforgettable series. If you are interested in watching a chilling show dripping with relatable characters and their struggle to beat a seemingly inescapable fate, it’s very well worth the watch.
I typically do not gravitate towards anything horror-related because I end up sleeping with all of my lights on, but this show proves that a show can be simultaneously eerie and heartfelt. The show’s scarier elements relax as the plot moves forward and more questions are answered. If anything, the overall mood of the narrative saddens as the characters struggle to cope.
Overall, the show does an excellent job of balancing intrigue with answers and tension with relief…
The plot centers around Hugh, Olivia and their five children: Luke, Nell, Theo, Shirley and Steve. The loving and idyllic Crain family moves into the elaborate mansion, Hill House, over summer break in 1992 with the plans of renovating and then selling it. As the summer progresses, each family member experiences strange episodes involving the house and its ghostly inhabitants. The show alternates between flashbacks featuring the children living in the house and then showing them as present-day adults. The time-skips create mysterious gaps in the plot which the showmakers slowly fill with subsequent episodes.
Two of the most dynamic characters in the show are Nell and Luke, a pair of twins who share a strong, empathetic bond with one another. The first episode opens with little Nell waking up with a start and screaming when she sees a figure she identifies as The Bent-Neck Lady standing at the foot of her bed. Her parents deduce the episode as a nightmare, but Nell remains uncertain and frightened. Most audience members will identify and relate to the little kids since most of us have experienced a nightmare as children. In this case, the difference is that Nell isn’t experiencing a nightmare, and waking up does not remove her from immediate danger.
My personal favorite character is Hugh, who tries his best to juggle the roles of being a supportive husband and dutiful father while living in a house teeming with insidious secrets. Young Hugh, featured in the flashbacks taking place in 1992, is portrayed by actor and musician Henry Thomas. Thomas is best known for his starring role of Elliot in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Actor and director Timothy Hutton plays older Hugh. Older Hugh spends much of the show attempting to reconnect with each of his children after years of strained relationships.
Overall, the show does an excellent job of balancing intrigue with answers and tension with relief. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator Mike Flanagan stated the story of the Crains finished when season one ended.
Doménica Castro is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in Spanish. DC874612@wcupa.edu