If you have a Netflix account, you absolutely must watch the series “The Haunting of Hill House.” When I say this is one of the best TV shows I have ever seen, I’m not exaggerating. It’s rare that a show will impact me in such a way that I can talk about it as much as I do with “Hill House.” It’s also rare that I have almost nothing to complain about a show. Yeah, it’s just that good of a show. Currently, there’s only one season streaming on Netflix, but the second season is still on track to come out sometime this year, with a new haunted house. So you’ve still got plenty of time to go watch the ten episodes more than once before the next season eventually drops. And in my opinion, this season needs to be watched multiple times.
If you couldn’t guess from the title of the show, the storyline of the first season is based loosely around Shirley Jackson’s famous 1959 novel “The Haunting of Hill House.” I’ve personally never read the book, so I can’t attest to how similar the series is to the book. However, the series is a modern retelling of it that is only loosely based on the original novel, so definitely expect changes. This season follows the Crain family through a healthy combination of them in present-day and flashbacks to their time living in Hill House back in 1992. Twenty-six years later, in 2018, tragedy brings the family back together and forces them to relive and confront their rocky past. And yes, don’t worry, it involves plenty of ghosts. Actual ghosts, not just the ghosts of their past, to be cliche.
If you’re not sold yet, let me tell you a little bit more about why the show is so good. Don’t worry, I’ll keep this spoiler-free. The first thing I loved was the characters. The Crain family consists of the parents Hugh and Olivia and their five children: Theo(dora), Nell, Luke, Steve, and Shirley. As I mentioned before, the show bounces between present-day and flashbacks, and they mastered that balance phenomenally. Both the adult and child forms of the siblings are so well-developed and complex that by the time the show ended, I felt that I actually understood them like they were real people. And the actors who portrayed them? Both the adults and the children are amazing at their roles. Unlike most shows that attempt this double-portrayal of characters, you can actually believe that the children grew up into these adults.
The most amazing aspect of the show is the cinematography, and how the directors were able to create a unique atmosphere that was genuinely creepy. It’s rare that shows can master this creepiness. A lot of scary TV and movies solely rely on intense jumpscares and gore to spook their viewers, but “Hill House” gets you with the slow build-ups to the scare. Some of the spookiness is subtle, and as I said before, you should really watch the season multiple times to get the full effect (and catch any details you probably missed before). I’ve watched it through three times now, and each time, I notice something new, and even though I know what’s going to happen, I still get creeped out. Of course, there are still some jumpscares, but like I said, it’s the slow, intense build-ups that truly scare the audience. It truly is phenomenal how they were able to do that. One notable example of the build-up happens in the sixth episode, which features a 17-minute long tracking shot that really builds up the suspense.
Oh, and there’s plenty of ghosts. Lots and lots of them, that again, you’ll have to watch multiple times to try and catch them all. There are hidden background ghosts cleverly dispersed throughout the season that are sort of like easter eggs to try and find during your rewatches. I absolutely LOVE that.
As you can tell, I can’t speak highly enough of this show, and as I go to rewatch the first season again, I can’t wait for the second season that’s coming out later this year. Something else I love about the show? According to the creators, it’s an anthology series. The second season is called the “Haunting of Bly Manor,” shifting the story away from Hill House and the Crain family to a totally new story (that’s based around “The Turn of the Screw.” Some of the actors are coming back to play completely different characters in season two, and I’m so excited about that. I see it as being what “American Horror Story” could have been. (P.S. – keep an eye out for my ranking of every AHS season so far, coming soon!)
To make a long story short, do yourself a favor and watch “The Haunting of Hill House.” Then you’ll understand how I feel about it.