Your news feed is probably filled with people talking about this already. Wonder what you’re missing?
Even though every week the headlines these days seems like they’re ripped from a bad real life horror movie, we still find joy in escapism via spooky movies. For those who are more into good stories and jump scares, rather than blood and gore and sex, Netflix has what you need with their super popular new offering The Haunting of Hill House.
This post contains zero spoilers. You’re welcome.
Loosely based on the 1959 novel of the same name by late author Shirley Jackson, it’s not a movie, but we don’t know if there will be a season 2 either, so would you call it a good old fashioned mini-series? We don’t know, and we don’t care. It is what it is, and it is a breath-taking piece of haunted house fiction done so well that few people can manage to NOT binge all ten episodes (nine hours and 32 minutes total) in one sitting, just to find out what happens next. Seriously, even people who aren’t fans of the horror genre are enraptured with this series. For good reason.
As Lindsey Romaine of Nerdist points out, “Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is widely considered one of the most important horror novels in history, a dissertation on gender roles in the 1950s, a cruel mockery of the standards imposed on women and the limitations of their sanity under duress.”
Jackson’s novel has been adapted for the screen before, with two movies both entitled The Haunting. The first one was in 1963, and featured Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn, while the 1999 version starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor. Neither of the previous movie adaptations were anything to sneeze at (I’m particularly fond of the ’99 version, but that’s due in large part to my not-so-small crush on CZJ’s portrayal of Theo), but they weren’t what you’d call “blockbusters” either.
But this… This is an entirely new animal all together. It’s not an adaptation. More like a reimagining and remix. When I say “loosely,” I mean just that. But taken on its face, and ignoring the implications of a deeper delve into the differences between the book, the author’s intent, and this take on it, it’s pretty amazing. More than just a jumpy ghost caper, it’s a surprisingly emotional look into family dynamics after trauma that you wouldn’t expect for something from this genre.
There is so much fun trivia about this show and the cast, there’s way too much to list. But trust that fans of the show are super excited about noticing every bit of it, and they want to tell you all about it. Check it out here.
So, what people are saying about it? They’re gushing. Literally gushing.
“It is so well done. The writing, acting, lighting, wardrobe, casting, music. I get why film buffs who at first watched it to mock this remake are now swooning over it.”
“Been swearing a lot, then laughing at myself all alone in front of the TV. Freaking out over plot twists, big reveals, and being an overall scaredycat. It’s fun!”
“It’s giving me actual anxiety. But I kind of like it?”
“The family is so very FAMILY that I have to laugh at its perfection.”
Stephen King loves it so much, he’s called it “close to a work of genius.” You can hardly have any higher praise than that.
If I had any criticism — unrelated to comparisons between this and Jackson’s novel — of the show it would be the flashing between the present and past, which can be confusing at times. But by “at times,” I mean exactly twice, and that was at the beginning. Once you get your bearings, you’re good to go. Each episode features a particular family member, and there’s a fan theory out there that each sibling represents one of the five stages of grief, and they’re even in birth order. Mind. Blown.
But it’s all done in such a way that seems integral to the story and never done just for effect and without feeling forced or corny. (Except Shirley. I have FEELINGS about Shirley’s ghost/trauma, but like I said, no spoilers. Watch it for yourself and get pissed off about it with me. And we won’t even talk about the constant gaslighting of poor Luke. Oh poor, poor Luke…)
One of my friends said, “So, I finished the Netflix original, The Haunting of Hill House and y’all. It’s basically the This Is Us of horror. By the end, I was sobbing and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I was taught family values and scared witless. I’m just not sure how to feel. So many emotions. Tonight will probably be night three of my husband having to walk with me to the bathroom… I highly recommend the show, though.”
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