Get Ready To Sleep With the Lights On
With the success of “American Horror Story”, there seems to be a renewed interest in horror television, which has certainly been shaking things up in the genre. Not to mention, this year’s major box office horror hit “Hereditary” is already receiving Oscar buzz and the upcoming “Halloween” reboot is accelerating the genre’s momentum even further. The newest addition to Netflix’s October must-watch list is a highly bingeable 10-episode miniseries based loosely on the 1959 Shirley Jackson gothic horror novel “The Haunting of Hill House”. The show, of the same name, follows the Crain family, who grew up and intended on renovating and flipping what is now known as the most famous haunted house in the country. Now, years after being forced to flee their house in sheer terror, the five children must face their repressed memories and tackle the demons that so deeply traumatized them.
For a seemingly normal TV horror, “The Haunting of Hill House” has been receiving unmatched critical acclaim, with The Av Club even calling it “the most moving depiction of trauma and its aftermath to come out of the horror genre in 2018”. So why all the praise? Here are three reasons everyone’s talking about this show:
#3) Mike Flanagan Delivered
The source novel by Shirley Jackson has been publicly celebrated, even by the King of Horror himself, Stephen King, who expressed in his history of the horror genre, “Danse Macabre”, that “The Haunting of Hill House” is one of “the only two great novels of the supernatural in the last hundred years”. With such an established foundation to work off of, the series’ director Mike Flanagan, who wrote, directed and edited horror films like “Before I Wake”, “Ouija: Origin of Evil”, and “Gerald’s Game”, took his loose adaptation to a whole new level. According to critics, Flanagan crafts each scene in a way that grips the viewer and keeps them hooked. Variety explains, for example, that “in an era of flashy and cheap jump scares, there’s something satisfying to the build of dread that comes when we know we’ll only see the horror when the rest of the characters do”.
#2) The Miniseries Formula Works
The issue with contemporary horror films is often the fact that limited screen-time leads to under-developed plot lines and simply a desire to scare the audience as much as possible in the allotted time. Being an episodic miniseries, with each episode coming in at around 1 hour, “The Haunting of Hill House” has been given the gift of time and is using it effectively by dedicating entire episodes to separate characters and really developing the degree to which they’ve been affected by the haunting. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show fills in narrative gaps from as many as four or five different windows of time throughout the children’s upbringing, making it “like the unholy union of This Is Us, Intervention and Flip or Flop. With ghosts.”
#1) Your Fear Will Persist
The show, which features a large, star-studded cast including Henry Thomas, Timothy Hutton, Carla Gugino, Michiel Huisman , Victoria Pedretti, Elizabeth Reaser and Kate Siegel, among others, definitely promises some classic quick scares as well as terrifying anxiety build-up, but the thing that has everyone freaking out is the series’ ability to keep us feeling troubled beyond the season’s completion. With themes like strained family bonds, secrecy, emotional damage, mental illness, addiction and indelible fear, the show finds its strength in it’s apparent ability to show us what happens after the horror, and how that may very well be the scariest part. Just as Variety shared in their review of the show’s first season, “the scariest hauntings are not by ghosts but by memories”.
All 10 episodes of “The Haunting of Hill House” Season 1 are on Netflix today, October 12th, will you be watching?
And for a deeper look into some REAL haunted houses, check out the video below for our pick of the Top 10 Famous Haunted Houses.