“Haunting of Hill House” Review


We can’t run away from our problems. Especially if one of those problems is a haunted house.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018) is a ten-episode series on Netflix. It is based on the novel from 1959, which has also been adapted into movies in 1963 and 1999.
The show centers around the Crain family. Olivia and Hugh are in the process of renovating an old mansion — Hill House. They bring their kids with them to do these renovations. As they stay there, each member of the family begins to see and experience horrifying things. Steven, the oldest, is wrapped in a fierce sense of denial. Shirley finds a box of ghost kittens. Theodora feels a chill in the air and intense emotion when she touches anything. Luke makes an interesting new friend. And, perhaps most terrifying, Nell is ceremoniously visited by a vision she refers to as the “Bent Neck Lady.” The family eventually flees, except for Olivia who is caught in the wreckage.
The show goes between this childhood and time in the house and the family’s present reality. Hugh is completely disconnected. Steven has written a novel about the house, and his siblings all resent him for it. Shirley owns a funeral home — a dream initiated by her mother’s death. Theodora makes a career of focusing on other people, so she doesn’t have time to focus on herself. Luke washes away the terrors of Hill House via substance abuse. And Nell has just mysteriously died.
This show really moved me. Not only did it have amazing acting and keep my attention, but it portrayed insanely dark subjects in such a beautiful and terrifying light. Hill House is a trauma for each of the siblings, and they all cope with it in different ways.
What I found most chilling about this show wasn’t the jumpscares or the ghosts (don’t get me wrong —those were horrifying), but the deep and twisted psychology embedded in it. I believe Hill House represents a bigger and more real terror —the human mind. The Dudleys, the family who watches over the house, live in a constant state of fear: of the house, of the world, of everything. Because of this fear, they lock themselves and their young daughter away from everything unknown. Olivia’s anxiety picked up rapidly in the house. Hugh’s tendency of choosing to ignore escalated.
I also believe that each of the siblings represents one of the five stages of grief. I believe that Steven is denial, Shirley is anger, Theodora is bargaining, Luke is depression, and Nell is acceptance. Each of these characters primarily shows this emotion or thought while dealing with the effects from the house and the loss of their mother.
I’d recommend this to anyone who’s interested in horror, psychology and family dynamics. This is, in my opinion, truly one of the best shows out there, and is criminally underrated.