A Review of the Netflix Series "The Haunting of Hill House"
Ok folks, I'm hot off a Netflix binge, and wanted to share my thoughts with you. As you know by now, it's my favorite month of the year - October. One of the best things about October is the slew of new scary movies that get released. Most of them are low-budget gore-fests, but once in a while a real gem comes out of the madness.
Even better than a two hour movie? An entire series you can invest your time in. We are truly in the golden age of television right now with fantastic series like Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, and Stranger Things changing the way we watch television. This isn't casual TV watching - this is TV made for an audience who is fully invested in the characters and stories.
With shows like Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, you count down the hours between episodes, speculating with your coworkers as to what everything means and what will happen next. Only in whispers of course - you don't want to ruin the show for someone who hasn't seen it yet.
When Stranger Things was released, I finally met my dream TV show. It was a combination of everything I love (x-files, steven spielberg movies, alien, etc.) It had great acting, a well-thought-out storyline, and a fantastic soundtrack. It was the first and ONLY time I've wanted to truly binge a TV show - stay up all night, only order take out, never get off the couch until it's done. Until now!
FYI, This is a spoiler free review! Safe to read, even if you haven't watched the show.
I first heard word that the Haunting of Hill House was coming to us as a Netflix Series a few weeks ago. When I saw the headline, my stomach dropped. The Haunting of Hill House is on my list of top ten all-time favorite books. I was terrified that they were going to ruin it. There have been flimsy film adaptations before, but nothing worthy of the book.
I watched the trailer, and felt both confused and excited. It appeared to be absolutely nothing like the book at all, and it also looked pretty darn good! I got home from work this past Friday night, and had the TV to myself. I popped on Netflix to see what I could find, and low and behold the Haunting of Hill House was ready for me to watch. Here I am, two days of binging later.
First of all, it's definitely a show that's hard to stop watching. Each episode ends in like a chapter in a book that leaves you wanting more. You can't WAIT to see what happens next.
Second of all, after just two episodes, I laid awake all night Friday night convinced the "bent-neck woman" from the show was hovering above my bed. No joke. I haven't slept well since I started watching Hill House. That's a good thing though! It means it's actually a scary show.
One thing the Haunting of Hill House excels at is creating these really creepy scenes and characters that just get under your skin. There are so many spine-tingling moments that will come back to you late at night, or for example when you happen to be wide-awake at 3:03 in the morning.
The acting was pretty fantastic, and the casting was spot-on. They cast both young and older versions of each character since the show takes place in both the past and present. My favorite characters were the young version of Luke and the young Theo.
The music reminded me a lot of Donnie Darko - very simple piano that fit the show well.
There was one episode in particular - I believe it was episode 5 (??) where I realized a few minutes in that the show had been one continuous shot. The first 25 minutes of the show actually seemed to be one continuous shot. I'm not sure if that's actually true, and my googling hasn't brought me any answers yet. But ya'll, it was so cool. I want to go back and watch all the episodes again to see if that had happened at other points without me picking up on it.
Also, now that I'm at the end, I need to go back and watch it all again to see what I missed in my first viewing. There are lots of quick moments throughout the episodes where there will be a quick shot of a ghost in the background and then it's GONE and just like that you missed it. It makes your heart skip a beat! I'm just sad that it's over because I need more spooky ghosts in my life, so I really just need an excuse to watch it again.
Was it anything like the book?
Nope. If you, like me, are a huge fan of Shirley Jackson's book, don't go into this expecting the same story and characters. There were definitely elements of the book that made it into the show. Chracter names, for example. There is a Theo and a Nel and a Luke, but they are definitely not the same characters. This is not the same story. It's a totally new take, but it's still a creepy ghost story. I love that about this show, and I think it was smart that they used the Hill House name and characters, but built an entirely new story.
They made this show for people like me, who love a good ghost story. There have been very few good TV shows about ghosts or haunted houses. Other than American Horror Story and The Enfield Haunting, I can't honestly thing of another good ghost TV show. (If you know of one, please tell me in the comments below!)
I don't see how they could come back with a second season, but I thought the same thing about Stranger Things, and they nailed the second season!
Here's the bottom line:
I've been waiting for a show like this for a long time, and it did NOT disappoint. It's everything I wanted in a ghost story television show. I highly recommend that you give it a watch!