‘Haunting of Hill House’ spooks with well-crafted supernatural drama

Ada Foley
Contributing Writer

The Crain children stand in front of Hill House, the home that has ruined their family. The Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House” based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson came onto the streaming service in late August, and it tells the story of a broken family and their haunted home. Photo from Netflix

As winter approaches, people aren’t very focused on hauntings, but Halloween doesn’t end have to end in November. For anyone wanting some holiday scares, “The Haunting of Hill House” is the perfect option.

Based on the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” is a 10-episode series on Netflix. Episodes range in running time from 42 to 71 minutes, and over the course of the series, the story of the Crain family weaves together, jumping between the past and the present.

The series begins in the year 1992, and the Crain family (parents Olivia and Hugh Crain and five children Stephen, Shirley, Theo, and twins Luke and Nell) has just moved into Hill House, a Massachusetts mansion with a bloodstained history.

Jump 26 years into the future, present day. The family has been splintered ever since the night Hugh grabbed his children and ran them out of the house, and Olivia killed herself. When Nell kills herself in Hill House, too, the Crain siblings and their estranged father must confront each other, their pasts and the place that started it all: Hill House.

As the plot progresses, more questions arise to puzzle the characters as well as the viewer. The show blurs the lines between dreams and reality as the characters struggle with not only the house that is eating up their family, but grief, ill-fated love and fear.

The filmmaking shows remarkable attention to detail and craft. Director and creator Mike Flanagan utilized long, eerie camera pans in many of the episodes, with the occasional ghost in the background. Episode 6 is shot entirely in scenes as long as 17 minutes without a cut, making them feel like they are happening in real time.

The actors and actresses who play the younger and older Crain family do a wonderful job capturing all aspects of their characters, and their portrayals inspire sympathy, anger, humor and sadness in the viewer. Each character reacts differently to the supernatural elements in their life, which is consistently portrayed with clarity by all the actors, young and old.

Each episode has moments that are scarier than others, and it varies as the story progresses. The level of intensity in many of the scenes creates a more stressful, intense and mysterious setting than one that is scary, per se, but it still has moments that would definitely please someone who loves a good jump scare.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is rated TV-MA, for horror elements, mature language and subject matter.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is a well made, well written, and fun to watch series that’s perfect for adding some well-rounded supernatural drama to the holidays.


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