Entertainment

REVIEW: The Haunting of Hill House

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The Haunting of Hill House: a chilling, slow burn ghost story.

It’s that time of year…

The days are getting darker and the nights are getting colder so we turn to horror because the spooky season is here!

Netflix has been churning out their original hits this year, with special attention on the reimagining’s of classic horror novels.

Mike Flanagan’s new take on Shirley Jackson’s novel follows the adult siblings who grew up at Hill House and unravels their past as they return to face their troubled childhood. The first six episodes take their time to lay the foundation of the spooky narrative, prioritizing building characters than simple frights.

I’m a bit of a horror snob. A good horror needs cleverly written storylines sprinkled with jump scares and gore. Not the other way around. Memorable horror and thrillers should be engaging and attention holding and not completely reliant on cheap scares. And most importantly, you have to feel for the characters, otherwise who cares what happens to them?

The Haunting of Hill House does all of these remarkably well. The mystery is chilling and it does have some typical tropes but they are used to remarkable effect. The reoccurring imagery is haunting and incredibly creepy, in an unfortunate way, it has stayed with me, especially when alone in the dark.

The series cleverly transitions between the grown-up siblings and their younger selves, in a true Stephen King-style, with flashbacks revealing the full intensity of the terror at Hill House.

The wonderfully flawed characters are one of the shows strengths, with gripping character arcs and the best child actors I’ve seen in any horror, a special mention should be said to the twins, lil Luke and Nelly.

In the post-Sixth Sense era of ghost stories, Flanagan knows that ghosts need to be more than bumps in the night.

“A ghost can be a lot of things,” says Steven (Michiel Huisman) in episode one. “A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt.”

Ghosts are the scariest when they represent something else. Flanagan plays with this throughout the series, alluding to the ghosts that haunt families, alongside themes like mental health, abuse and secrets. With unsettling forced perspectives and blink and you’ll miss dark figures in the shadows that are never laughable or gimmicky, the overall mood created is gothic and haunting.

 

Words by Sam Lee

Edited by Megan Drew

Featured image by Steve Dietl/Netflix

 

 

Megan Drew is your entertainment editor

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