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