The Haunting of Hill House: deliciously horrific, subtly creepy

Earlier this year, I read the book “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson and wrote a mini review here. As a horror fiction-junkie, I had a fling with this book.

 

Had it swept me off my feet like “The Fisherman” or “Bird-Box” for life? No.

Have I had a good time while progressing through the pages? Yes.

 

It was the psychological terror that involved everything that I loved about “horror” genre:

  • Unreliable narrator,
  • An isolated, dilapidated big castle with a mysterious, tragic past,
  • A motley group terrorized by spirits and battling them out,
  • Cognitive dissonance.

 

So, how could I resist the urge of binge-watch Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House”?

 

"The Haunting of Hill House" Netflix review

Image source: Nerdist

 

So much have already been written about this show already, that I felt (a huge) late Lateef in writing down this review (or me blabbering about the show).

 

Is there any resemblance to book and the series?

No.

The series rather seemed like a fan-fiction or a spin-off. Other than retaining to the core (don’t know what it means), everything is stripped to the bone, refilled, whitewashed and presented in a new package.

 

So rather telling the story of a bunch of Ghost-busters tracking down paranormal activity in the creepy mansion, here we found the Crain-family haunted by the ghosts of the Hill-family and the poor “Dudleys” thrown in-between.

 

Pros:

 

  1. Take a bow, the DOP. And the art directorThe elegantly shot series is a treat to sore eyes. This is most visually-pleasing, aesthetically done-up series I’ve seen in recent years. In case you’re a budding cinematographer, it should be case-study (even my untrained eyes detected that).

 

     2. Carla Gugino

Netflix's "The Haunting of Hill House" review

Image source: Refinery

       The matriarch of the Crain-family. She is another reason you need to watch this. I’m    in love with her. This is the first time I’ve seen her acting on-screen and buoy! She totally killed it, even if the character she has been given is not bereft of the hysterical woman trope on-screen. Please Universe, give her an Emmy next year.

 

   3. The family dynamics

     It warms the cockles of my heart to watch sibling-bonding on-screen. And “The Haunting of Hill House” did it and how! There was love, jealousy, neglect, redemption, rejection, and acceptance- the whole 360-degree spectrum.

 

  4. The script

    Though the Puritans would rebuke the adaptation moving so much away from the book, I found the script taut, engaging, gripping and never stumbling along the way.

 

5. The mental-health talk

…throughout the series-  between Steven and Hugh; between Hugh and Olivia. It’s refreshing to see characters acknowledging mental illness and trying to combat it till the last.

Cons:

 

1. The ending…

…was cheesy as hell. I mean, really Mike Flanagan? After such a topsy-turvy ride, I didn’t expect to see such saccharine-sweet tidying-up!

The director took the line from the book “Journey’s end in lovers meeting” too seriously. Everyone looked so lovey-dovey before the end-credit rolls in the final episode.

But I’ve Bollywood for that!

Instead, color me sinister.

 

2. The going back-and-forth narrative…

…sometimes got jarring.

I get unreliable narrator. I appreciate.

But there are too many here, that had the potential to spoil the broth.

Ex:one character claims to have done Vasectomy but at the end, his wife came off pregnant! Am I missing/imagining things?

 

2. Clash between mental-health & ghosts

Image result for the haunting of hill house netflix

image source: Pop Culture

It was hard to differentiate which scary event the characters imagined (Hill House scarred each of the adults mentally) and which ones were really triggered by the ghosts. Too much brain fog.

 

Recommended for:

The lovers of Gothic-horror who relishes subtlety, not looking to have jump-scares and don’t want to miss one of the best horror shows of the decade.

 

Recommended “not” for:

 

The anti of everything I’ve stated in the above point.

 

Should you read the book even if you’ve watched the show?

Yes.

Although the book is not a masterpiece (my humble two cents), it’s still a path-breaking tale of horror- meeting- untreated- mental- illness and the suppressed urge of coming-out-of-closet.

 

Netflix's "The Haunting of Hill House" review

Have you watched or planning to watch “The Haunting Of Hill House”? Have you read the book? Let me know.

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8 thoughts on “The Haunting of Hill House: deliciously horrific, subtly creepy

  1. bookbeachbunny says:

    Great review! Honestly I tried to watch this and was really excited but I think some stuff just gets under my skin a little too much- I enjoy reading other peoples reviews of it instead 🙂 Though I did see the movie version of the book from the 90’s but mostly because I was in love with Liam Neeson at the time.
    Also I think vasectomies can be reversed but don’t hold me to that!

    • Jheelam says:

      Oh, I didn’t know that stuff about vasectomy. If true, then the director must have had great confidence in his audience’s GK. I can totally understand “things getting under skin” part.

      But I’ve seen such a well-made horror series since ages. So got li’l carried away while singing praises of it. 😀

  2. Beth says:

    I didn’t read the book or watch the series, but my husband and teenaged son watched the show. My husband kept saying it wouldn’t be too scary for me and that I’d really like it. They just finished it recently, I’ll have to ask them how they felt about the ending.

    • Jheelam says:

      Yes, do ask them. I’m sure they would recommend it to you. This is a very well-made show with lots of sublety and minus-gimmick.

  3. Ross says:

    Great review, I have not read the book but I did love the show – I have to disagree with a few bits though. I loved the narrative and the amount of back and forth and seeing events from different perspective.

    The vasectomy / pregnant bit knocked me a touch. But then I assumed that was 18 months later by the “2” on Luke’s cake, suggesting he was 2 years clean rather than 90 days. In that time I want to believe Steve came clean and they found an alternative way around becoming pregnant.

    Plus side I have to agree with the Carla Gugino point – what a talent!

    • Jheelam says:

      Thanks Ross for dropping by. The thing about “vasectomy” pissed me a bit ’cause it took a central theme in a very crucial words-exchange between Steve and his father. But later, the script dropped it like a hot potato. Atleast, an extra line could’ve added somewhere to explain briefly what the “alternative way” is. Anyway, all said-and-done this one is great hook for horror-lover like me (and you, I presume) no bodubt. 🙂

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