By JD Phillips
There’s something special when you find a show on Netflix you know nothing about and end up slowly discovering that it’s one of the best shows you’ve ever seen. Like “Dark”, “Mindhunter”, or “Bloodline” (the first season anyway), “The Haunting Of Hill House” is one of those hidden gems that you end up binge watching within the span of a weekend. It easily ranks as one of the best series Netflix has ever done.
The idea of the show is pretty standard horror fare. Several grown siblings try to come to terms with the death of their mother in their childhood home, which may or may not be (but definitely is) haunted. The show is definitely reminiscent of movies like “The Conjuring”, “IT”, etc. but showrunner Mike Flannagan (“Oculus”, “Gerald’s Game”) imbues Hill House with enough style and heart that the series takes on a life all its own.
And good god is it scary. Whether it’s jump scares, ghost barely out of frame, or pure psychological terror, Hill House more than delivers on the thrills. Twists like the big “Bent Neck Lady” and “Red Room” reveals will make you want to rewatch the series immediately so you can catch the hints you missed. The special effect that might be the most terrifying though, is Carla Gugino. Her performance as the warm yet manic mother, Olivia, draws you in so it’s extra terrifying when she shows her ethereal ghostly side.
The biggest surprise about the show isn’t the great scares but the great character drama. If you took out all the ghosts and creepiness the show would still be an extraordinary family drama like ABC’s “This Is Us”. Each of the siblings deals with their ghost drama in different ways. Whether through drugs, romance, family, writing, or...gloves, each of the members of the Crain family escape their pain in ways that usually cause more pain. The series drives into this by framing each episode around one specific character. The episodes about the twins Nelly and Luke are particularly haunting (pun intended).
While most of the show hinges around the scares and mysteries surrounding Hill House, in the end, it stands as a wonderful story about love, loss, family, addiction, suicide, betrayal, failure, and learning to move on.
Not only that, but it is one of the best-directed shows Netflix has ever produced. The episode “Two Storms” is told through several long shots that follow the family members through two terrible stormy, ghosty nights. The rest of the series is directed with a similar level of style. The episodes all have such different styles that it’s surprising that Mike Flanagan was the only person who directed the series. The director may have been well regarded before but after his work on this series, it’s clear that he is one of the best talents in the horror genre.
If you’re looking for a scary and engaging show to binge over your Halloween month, “The Haunting Of Hill House” is perfect for you. It’s a masterpiece that stands as one of the best Netflix series and possibly the best tv show in the horror genre.