Season Review The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House – Season 1

"When I said I've never seen a ghost, that's not exactly true. I've seen a lot of ghosts. Just not the way you think. A ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But in my experience most times they're just what we want to see. Most times a ghost is a wish."

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The funny thing about The Haunting of Hill House is that it’s not really a horror show. Netflix will have you believe it’s the scariest thing of all time, but this is really a story about loss.

Unfolding across two separate timelines, this is the tragic tale of five siblings who endure a terrifying childhood, and suffer its traumatic after-effects well into adulthood. Yes there are creepy moments and an anxiety-inducing atmosphere, but the emotion is what drives the show. The five Crain kids are perfectly cast, and each character is drawn so vividly that they feel like genuine human beings experiencing extraordinary things. Even more impressive are the children who play the five siblings in the past timeline. They rival the young actors on Stranger Things and This Is Us in both talent and charisma. Wow!

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Crain parents played by Carla Gugino and Timothy Hutton. The love between the two helps ground the familiar dynamics, and ensures our emotional investment in a story that spans many decades.

On a personal note: there’s such a great deal of foreboding and tension in the show that I actually struggled to fall asleep the first few nights. Yes people I actually started hearing sounds and feeling a presence in my room just like the Crain kids. Talk about psychological horror! Mission well done show!

Necks & Pieces 

Skip this section if you haven’t finished the season because I will spoil all the twists.

– It took me a while to recognize Game of Thrones‘ very own Michiel Huisman as Steven! He makes for a great lead!

– Does Kate Siegel (who plays Theodora) remind anybody else of Angelina Jolie? The resemblance is insane.

– Nell and Arthur’s story was so heartwarming that I actually found his gruesome death to be terribly affecting.

– The most jaw-dropping twist of the year: the bent-neck lady is actually Nell haunting herself through time. I have no words.

– Episode 6 features a 16-minute long tracking shot that is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen. My favorite touch: Hugh walking in and the adult actors getting replaced by the young versions of themselves (because that’s how their father sees them). I can’t imagine the effort that went into pulling this episode off.

– Seeing Luke suffer so much thanks to his addiction confirmed to me that I will never ever try any drugs.

– Check this awesome article out for all the hidden ghosts you probably didn’t spot. I can’t believe there were that many!

– I love that the Red Room ended up being many rooms for each of the siblings. How perfect.

– Poppy actually didn’t creep me out as much as I would have liked. The tall man (who haunts Luke) was horrifying however. Wish we got more of him!

– Tearjerking moment: the Dudleys reuniting as ghosts with Abigail and their stillborn child. Did anyone else predict Abigail was their daughter? I thought it was pretty obvious.

– What did you think of the somewhat hopeful ending? Honestly, out of the show’s ten episodes, the finale was my least favorite. It wasn’t a total flop but I wanted something more explosive. It was still heartbreaking to see Hugh reunite with his wife and daughter though, and to witness the Crain Kids all get their happy endings after so much misery.

– It’s interesting to note that the show basically paints Olivia as a “villain” in the finale since she’s so hellbent on keeping her kids inside the house. Carla infuses the character with so much warmth despite everything that you never truly hate her. In fact you believe that it’s love that fuels her extreme measures.

Conclusion

A near perfect debut season with a touching story and powerful performances. A must watch!

Nad Rating
A

6 comments

  1. I have to agree that this show is more about grief and loss than a typical horror show. (Although the preponderance of ghosts lurking around, in just about every other scene, was very unsettling.) There were moments when I jumped out of my seat in fright, but that wasn’t all that the screenwriters wanted. What they wanted was an intelligent and moving story about a family and about the irretrievable losses they suffer. The writers succeeded. I, too, found the ending to be a little flat. SPOILER ALERT: And I still don’t understand why someone would haunt themselves.

    I’m nitpicking. This was well-worth the time invested.

    1. Ok good so I wasn’t the only one who found it a bit underwhelming as an ending. Nevertheless the show was so darn good that I loved the experience of watching it! Glad you enjoyed it too Rocco!

  2. It’s rare that I watch a series all the way through and then go right back to the beginning. However The Haunting of Hill House was that excellent, that moving. The second time around was more fulfilling, as I already knew who the children would grow up to be–something I struggled with during my first viewing of Episode One. (I also spotted more ghosts. I hadn’t noticed that the Bent-Neck Lady was standing in the back of the funeral parlor during the fantastic Two Storms episode. The effect was both frightening and sad.)

    1. Wow you made me want to rewatch. Such a deep show Rocco and I keep thinking about it! It’s been on my mind since I watched it! Such a beautiful exploration of loss and grief! And I think I totally missed her in the funeral parlor! Will check it out now thanks!

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