To Binge or Not to Binge: Episode 59: ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

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Hannah Allred

(Graphic by Hannah Allred | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ray Gill, Arts Writer

From the strange twists in “Stranger Things” to the otherworldly encounters in “Supernatural,” we are continuously drawn towards the eerie. Ghosts, demons, beasts and aliens make frequent appearances in various forms of media. Haunted houses, though, are what accompany, and often house, these creatures. It just comes with the territory. 

Mike Flanagan’s reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror novel, “The Haunting of Hill House,” explores the lives of siblings who lived in the most infamous haunted house in the nation. Dubbed “Hill House,” the restless building calls out to the now-adult siblings once again. This Netflix Original Series has been met with a considerable amount of hype, with Jackson being known as one of the best ghost storytellers of the 20th century and Flanagan as a veteran horror writer himself, but do the accolades transfer to the actual show?

 

To Binge or Not to Binge?

A good TV series can be judged by a number of factors, but perhaps the most telling of all is if you’d ever watch it again. For me, “The Haunting of Hill House” is one of those shows I want to watch over and over again — it doesn’t rely on overused jump scares and elongated drama, as many thrillers do. If I could have my mind erased just to re-experience this show for the first time, I would. In short, it delivers phenomenally.

From the balance of character development, the rare scares and fruitful plot, “The Haunting of Hill House” is not only binge-able but a repeat binge. I used to write scary stories during a time when most children would rather watch a brightly colored show with annoying, high pitched characters that spout love and laughter. Once I found old ’80s horror flicks such as the “Evil Dead” series, the “Chucky” series, and “Gremlins,” my loathe and love for the genre emerged.

For me, “The Haunting of Hill House” is a relief, considering the array of television shows we have now. The TV adaptation toys with the psychological terror of ghosts while confronting viewers about their perception of what the supernatural really is. As time slips between the past and the present throughout the show, viewers even question what constitutes what is reality within the series’ world. 

The characters have distinctly different personalities explored in a well-developed fashion, and the cast adapts to each character’s personality effortlessly. Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino and Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton bring to life the reimagining of a possessive haunted house. Characters who exceptionally stood out include Theo (Kate Siegel) and Olivia Crain (Gugino). In the episode “Touch,” Theo struggles with finding a job while viewers are simultaneously looped into the past moments with her mother.

Beyond the story itself, what really stands about this show is the way it was produced and directed. The smallest attention to detail, such as camera angles and scene transitions, helped build the aura of the show. While character interactions help facilitate the plot, the camerawork and settings help capture and set the overall mood. The use of transitions leaves viewers feeling haunted as they slide between the present and a flashback, like when an adult character closes a door and their younger self opens it. For someone who is studying film or game execution, scenes like these are perfect examples of how to immerse viewers into a world.

If you’re searching for a show to kick off the spooky season, “The Haunting of Hill House” is the perfect show.

 

Best Episode

All of the episodes are great in this fascinating tale, but if I had to choose only one favorite episode, it would be “The Bent-Neck Lady” by far. This episode is what made the series binge-able. Truths and connections are explained and intertwined with the revelation of who the “Bent-Neck Lady” really is, and why she appeared throughout many of the episodes as a specter. 

 

Similar Shows

“Bates Hotel,” “American Horror Story, “Glitch,” “Chambers,” “Requiem” and “Hemlock Grove.”

 

Trigger Warnings

This show is rated MA for mature audiences and includes curse words, blood, partial nudity, death and sensitive topics. “The Haunting of Hill House” is categorized as psychological horror.

 

5 out of 5 Stars

“The Haunting of Hill House”

Available to stream through Netflix 

10 episodes, roughly 6 hours. A new season is scheduled to come in 2020.

 

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