Haunting of Hill House (HHoH) is a show I am all too enthused to talk about. Director Mike Flanagan really is creating some of the most visionary and mind-bending horror content whether it is for the big or small screen. From his 2014 Cult Hit Oculus to last year’s Netflix Exclusive, Gerald’s Game, the man has a true eye for talent, detail and subverting expectation.
HoHH, based on the Shirley Temple Book of the same name, tells the story of a family who experience intense trauma, thanks to a Haunted House from their past, and how that past is coming back to haunt them both figuratively and literally. The show not only moves at a brisk pace with its tight ten episode length, each sibling gets a chance to shine when the show makes sure to showcase just how the house left a scar on each of them mentally and how each one of them handles it in the modern day, one sibling choosing to benefit off of it in a monetary way, while others choose to repress their memories thus impeding them in daily life, while others have spiraled out into lives of self destruction.
Right from the jump, the best thing this series has going for it is its tremendously good pacing and attention to detail. That small conversation two characters had in one scene in episode three might come back into relevance in episode 8, there might be something hidden in the background that hints at a future reveal, the way the house chooses to prey and feed on the fears of this family is systematic, methodical and maddeningly genius. Much like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this is a piece of media that drives you, the viewer, just as crazy as the protagonists within it.
There is a twist halfway through the season that, honestly, if you pay close enough attention to how certain details are laid out, the reveal can be discovered fairly quickly. Much like in Mike Flanagan’s other piece of work, Oculus, not only are the child actors just as good as the adult actors, but they are 100% believable as a family, as they fight, they bicker, they chastise each other and if you have ever been in a emotionally draining argument with your own family it is completely relatable on a visceral human level.
The show is chock full of haunting visuals and great scares, as the titular HILL HOUSE is almost a character in it of itself! There are shots that will often have a hidden ghost just standing there in the background, leaving you the view to wonder if you actually just saw something spooky or if your mind is playing tricks on you, just like the characters in the show have to wonder if they are actually seeing ghosts or if they are all just insane in the membrane.
From the set design to the pacing to the top notch writing, this is ten episodes of television you cannot afford to miss. Netflix definitely has another winner with THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE!