Dark, Sad, Disturbing, Disjointed. These were my initial thoughts of The Haunting of Hill House, and it continued to be so even up till the 7th episode. But now, upon concluding the first season I cannot help but marvel at the authenticity of the show and how well the story was told.
This show is a fillip that evokes all sorts of emotion from you in a way not many shows out there will. Infact, I have never watched anything like it before. Haunting of Hill House is different and in a class to its own.
Created by Mike Flanagan, it is loosely based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson and consists of ten episodes. The story is about a couple who the summer of 1992, temporarily move into Hill House with their 5 children while they renovate the mansion to sell it at a profit and build their own house. However, they begin to experience paranormal activity which resulted in a tragic loss and the family fleeing the house. Twenty-six years later, the siblings and their estranged father reunite after tragedy strikes again, and they are all forced to confront how their time in Hill House had affected each of them.
Haunting of Hill House didn’t suck me in at all. In fact up until the 7th episode, I was still wondering if it was worth all the buzz and high ratings- 9/10 on IMDB and 93% on rotten tomatoes. Typically I’m convinced about how good a show is by the second or third episode, but this was different in so many ways. In bits and pieces, flipping back and forth from the past to the present between 26 years, the show introduces new information as it gradually comes together to answers confusing questions. But as it does this, it opens even more indepth chapters emanating from the answered questions that leaves you wanting to know more.
Curiosity and suspense is what made me continue watching because by the 5th episode I still had so many questions. It wasn’t until the 9th episode, that the plot really came together and the 10th and final was a crescendo of emotion. I didn’t think it will end how it did, as there are still many unanswered questions making me think that a 2nd season is likely in the works, but I certainly had closure on certain questions. The writers did good with the revelation of the real mystery behind the House, which I wondered about and didn’t quite get clearly till the tail end of the show.
The acting and delivery by the actors was phenomenal, and boy, did they give a humdinger of a performance. Yes, acting is make believe , but this show revolved around very intense, sad emotion and they brought it to live raw with their remarkable interpretation. I was particularly blown away by the acting in episode six, “Two Storms” and it is no surprise that critics are calling it a a technical marvel because it comprised of five uncut long-shots, almost like a stage play. In fact the director joked that he edited it in just 10 seconds because the actors especially the children did a fantastic job at learning their super long lines and cues. My favourite was young Nell( one of the youngest kids)- Violet Mcgraw. I was very convinced and many times her delivery moved me to tears. Senior Nell- Victoria Pedretti gave a powerful performance too but the child factor was a plus for Mcgraw and she won my heart.
Another remarkable thing about this show was its scene continuity. The director Michael Flanagan effortlessly moved from past to present keying into the next scene from an element in the previous scene. To fully understand this, you’d need to watch it to see what I mean.
While Haunting of Hill House had some out of the blue nerve wrecking scary scenes ( watch out for episode 8), I wouldn’t necessary call it horror per se. I’d describe it more as a drama thriller with a bit of horror, but nothing your weak heart can’t take…lol. I expect this show to win many, many awards when it qualifies for nominations especially in the areas of acting and technicality.
Finally, would I recommend haunting of hill house? Of course! However, you might need to be patient at first, but I assure it is worth it all the way. The show is a refreshing take on psychological drama, that I think will awaken your emotions in ways very few shows, if any other can. It takes time for the plot to build and connect but in the end, it’s comes together really good.