With Halloween swiftly approaching, Netflix, much to the delight of horror fans, has continued to update its library with films and TV shows from the ghastly genre.
The latest addition, The Haunting of Hill House, has already generated a bevy of impressive reviews, with some reaching 91% amongst film critics on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a 5/5 rating on Roger Ebert. The ladbible even somewhat flimsily claimed that the show “has proven so scary that people are saying they’ve been vomiting, close to passing out and unable to sleep.” The show itself has proven that to be successful, it’s rewarding to take a different approach to the horror genre.
Director Mike Flanagan has taken the same approach that successful modern day horror films (Get Out, Hereditary, The Babadook) have gone with, focusing on the human trauma and skeletons in the closet, instead of cheap scares and gore, though that is not to say the show doesn’t stray away from them entirely.
Featuring ten episodes, all differing in length, the show centres around a family who have moved into an isolated house, with the intention of doing it up and selling it for a profit. It doesn’t take long for things to go horribly wrong, as they all begin to be individually affected by malevolent forces that dwell within.
The family consists of five young children and two parents, with the show jumping back and forth in time, elaborating on the impact the events had on them.
What is most effective about the show, however, is the themes that it explores. Inherited mental illness, addiction, and generational trauma are right at the forefront of the series. The first episode acts as the building block for the show, introducing the plot, characters, and how close they are, both in the past and present. The show then uses five episodes, each dedicated to a member of the Crain family, and how their own unique experience has haunted them.
What truly stands out about The Haunting of Hill House is its production. Some of the shots linking past and present are truly outstanding and episode six epitomises this, with a magnificent marriage of beautiful shots and masterful acting on show.