The Haunting of Hill House is a Netflix original series based on the 1959 novel of the same name. It follows a family's experience within and following their stay at what would become an infamous haunted home. The show primarily follows the experiences of the five children, what they experience in the home, and how they are affected as adults.
The Haunting of Hill House Review
The family tree of haunted Hill house films is a confusing one...The House on Haunted Hill films (1959 and 1999) are not actually associated with The Haunting of Hill House novel...despite also being published in 1959. The Haunting of Hill House novel does however have film adaptations under the title The Haunting (1963 and, ironically enough, 1999). So...there you go...a brief, weird, history of the Hill house haunting filmography...
But the most recent adaptation of the novel is this Netflix original that stays true to the original novel's title, much to the confusion of all of us. We're late on the review bandwagon for this, but not necessarily late to the show. This Netflix adaptation has already received a ridiculous amount of praise and is highly regarded by some as the greatest Netflix show yet. That crown, particularly when it comes to Netflix's powerful line of original episodic television, is tough to hand out so easily, but The Haunting of Hill House is definitely worthy of the controversial hype.
Despite its scary nature, the innate drama and effective writing of this adaptation have allowed it to reach a wider audience. Many have praised the series for avoiding jump scares for a majority of its runtime, using slow pans, unsettling sounds, and sometimes subtle/sometimes visceral visuals to drive its horror. This is all true, and the atmosphere constructed is incredibly effective.
The entirety of the series is some of the most addictive I've seen in recent memory. It's been a while since I've found a show so binge-worthy that I was willing to lose significant amounts of sleep to finish it. I lost a lot of sleep trying to get through this one, but never nodded off in the early hours.
Some of the entities are very creative and frightening, and some of my favorite horror constructs I've seen in recent memory. One particular scene was one of the best horror moments I can recall and will stick with me for a long time. But these horror elements are more-so a powerful vehicle for the dramatic family dynamic of the Crains. It's a truly moving and impactful tale of grief, loss and coping with childhood trauma. There's so much depth.
And within this depth and this horror we get something that is very rare in serial horror television...a cohesive story. I've reached my limit of what American Horror Story has to offer and even Channel Zero has its moments of "umm...what?" But you very rarely feel that with Haunting of Hill House. The cohesion, despite the chaos of the house's paranormal events and the constant switching back and forth between past and present, is flawlessly constructed and executed.
I do have one complaint...the ending. Many have loved and praised the ending as much as the rest of the series, but I just can't come to terms with certain moral conflicts that aren't satisfied to my liking. I'll leave it at that to limit any possible unintentional spoilers. But, it was a disappointing ending to an otherwise perfect production.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 8/10
TV Quality: 9/10