Sunday, October 21, 2018

Screaming Sunday: The Haunting of Hill House

By s. Sunday, October 21, 2018 ,
Rating - 94/100
Plot:  Explores a group of siblings who, as children, grew up in what would go on to become the most famous haunted house in the country. Now adults, and forced back together in the face of tragedy, the family must finally confront the ghosts of their past, some of which still lurk in their minds while others may actually be stalking the shadows of Hill House.
The heroes: The Crain family.
The antagonists: The inevitably of death. I shit you not, that's basically the antagonist.
What makes it so great? The Haunting of Hill is not only the greatest thing TV or cinema has to offer in the month of Halloween but one of the Netflix finest shows to date. But what it is first and foremost is one of the greatest horrors in recent memory. We are in renaissance of horror lately. We have The VVitch, Hereditary, It Follows. But we haven't really got a ghost story in a very long time. The antagonists in all of the above were evil forces that the audience had no sympathy or even understanding for. There was still a touch of humanity there - Thomasin caring for her siblings, Annie waling after her daughter. But the most gigantic horror franchise currently is The Conjuring franchise featuring one dimensional demonic antagonists. But The Haunting of the Hill House does something that is done very rarely - we fear seeing the ghosts in it even though we feel sympathy for them.

The show's most memorable ghost is the Bent-Neck Lady. In the show's amazing fifth episode's last moment we find out the identity of the ghost and it's the greatest twist I've seen in a very long time.

Even after we know the identity of the ghost, it is still frightening. But it's different kind of frightening. Previously we thought Bent-Neck Lady was a malevolent force, probably even dangerous - it appeared she killed Nell's husband. But that's not what happened. He really did die of aneurysm. The ghost still shows up - she stands there wordless during Nell's wake, she frightens Luke during her funeral, she screams forcing her sisters to stop fighting. We know Nell doesn't wanna harm anyone but seeing her is so distressing - the ironic tragedy of her haunting herself (was there ever a twist like that before? Only Triangle comes to mind) and the sadness of death itself, shown with such poignancy here, probably for the first time since Six Feet Under. We feel sad when we see The Bend-Neck Lady because we feel so sad for Nell. And we feel helpless because of what her character represents - death and inevitability of it. That's why the criticisms for the 'upbeat' ending of the show are not something I agree with. The show ends with the Crain siblings celebrating life - Shirley coming clean before her husband, Luke being two years sober, Theo being with her girlfriend and Stephen expecting a child with his wife. 

This horror story unlike a great deal of horrors out there was not about the monsters but about the people. And this is not the only thing that makes it stand out. The sixth episode is a technical marvel - its first 15:38 minutes were done in one straight take. No edits. No cuts. In fact, the episode itself is comprised of FIVE of these long takes, the longest being the third, which is over 17 minutes. The production was shut down for six weeks of detailed rehearsals to accomplish this.

The series is worth seeing even for those who dislike horror genre. The characters are very interesting, not perfect but relatable. And the show looks gorgeous. Also it has truly wonderful cast and I hope the lesser known actors in it will get big breaks thanks to it.
Oh-oh something's not right line: She dead.
Morbid Trivia: In multiple wide-shot scenes at Hill House, you can see ghosts in the background. Sometimes just hands, shadows, and faces.
Scare factor: - 4/5 evil pumpkins - The show is truly unnerving and other than the greatest plot twist in years (in episode 5) it also has the greatest jump scare, probably since Mulholand Drive (in episode 8).
Gore factor: - 2/5 bloody Leatherfaces - there's not much gore but there is some very disturbing imagery.
Is there a twist? YES.
Hint: For the love of God don't watch it before going to sleep.
Unsuitable for: House owners. Cat owners. Funeral home owners.
Repercussions: You'll probably never look at a kitten again.


  1. Great recap! I didn't love this but I enjoyed watching it very much and I 100% agree with you on a technical level. All the actors were really good too.

    1. They were so good. Not one weak link in the cast.

  2. god DAYUM I need to get onto this immedietely

  3. Still need to watch this one... maybe next week.

    1. It's really good! i managed to saw all of it in one weekend

  4. finally finished it! opinions seem to differ, but like you, I loved it. so tense, so scary, so real. it really frightened me and was beautiful to watch at the same time.

  5. Just finished the season yesterday, and I like it a lot more than I thought I would. Hell yes to Episode Six. I love when it clicks for me that this has all be one shot. Then I lean forward and just study what I'm watching. What a technical marvel. Great review!