Netflix Strikes Gold Once Again


Cover art poster for The Haunting of Hill House: Steve Dietl/Netflix

Juan Viruet, Entertainment Critic

Based on the 1959 novel of the same name written by Shirley Jackson, Netflix’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ brings all the emotion and scares that the horror genre so desperately needs, while also packing so much more in its 1st season.

Mike Flanagan holds the mantle of Director through all 10 episodes, which is unusual for a T.V series as there is normally multiple directors throughout a season. The choice to keep Flanagan at the helm pays big dividends as it keeps each episode cohesive to the overall story and allows Flanagan to leave his fingerprints every step of the way.

“From the beginning, I wanted to direct all of them. It was a big conversation about whether or not that was a good idea, and I went back and forth on that. Ultimately, I did it, and it was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done,” Flanagan explains in a phone interview with Collider. “But this story in particular touches on a lot that’s very personal to me. I really wanted, for this one, to be at the helm for all of it.”

Scares are a plenty in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, coming in different forms, either through creepy imagery, jump scares or storytelling elements that truly get under one’s skin. The house itself is scary looking from both the inside and out which helps set the skin crawling tone. The scariest part of Hill House, however, is not the jump scares or ghosts lurking in the corner of frames, it’s the effect the house has left on each character even years after moving out of the home.

There are 7 members in the Crain Family (main protagonists of the show), and every character is given their chance to shine and the show allows you to see their perspective from their time at Hill House and what they’ve been up to after the events that occurred there. Some are better off than others and some can’t shake off what happened to them while living there.

What this show does so well is making you feel for the family as a whole; giving each character very different personalities and yet making each one so compelling even if they start to get a bit irritating (ahem Steve…). They aren’t a perfect bunch, far from it actually, but they feel strikingly real and grounded even with all the supernatural events happening around them.

“A story is really only interesting to me, if you can remove all of the genre moments and remove the supernatural element, and it still works” Flanagan says. “I’m always drawn toward family drama, and dysfunctional family stories. It speaks to me, in a really profound way, and I think there’s so much to explore within it.”

The cast and crew have undoubtedly crafted some of the best-looking and free-flowing scenes of any T.V. series in 2018 and maybe this decade. Sequences such as in episode 6 titled ‘Two Storms’ has 18-20-minute-long scenes without any cuts in between. This heightens the tension not only for the viewer, but for the cast and crew as well because one little slip up while filming, and its back to the top of the take.

Arguably the best aspect of the show is its story telling and the way it unfolds and connects. This could’ve easily been a generic tale of a family in a haunted house that everyone has seen a million times before. Fortunately, Mike Flanagan understands how to tell an intricate story and takes a generic plot and spins it on its head. Every episode is a layer being peeled back to unfold the big mysteries and secrets behind the walls of hill house, taking the slow burn approach to tell a story that grips you by the neck from the opening minutes and never lets go.

With so much meat to chew off the bone, this story of the dysfunctional Crain family that has its fair share of scares and tension between them, leaves you full and satisfied by the end of it all but also makes you want to revisit Hill House again and again.

Overall: 10/10

Best Episodes: ‘Touch’, ‘The Bent-Neck Lady’, ‘Two Storms’, ‘Silence Lay Steadily’

Worst Episode: (If I had to pick) ‘Open Casket’