The world of horror films and shows is fickle and unpredictable. We can find ourselves with genuine boredom or otter joy. Such is the case with The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix’s horror show inspired by the gothic novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. We’re not only going to explain to you why it’s a joy, but also what else is available for you in the strange universe of streaming.
The 10 episodes of The Haunting of Hill House (each about an hour-long) are divided into two time slots. The first, when the family just arrived at the house, and the children were just kids.
The second, years later, when the children, now adults, reflect on their strange childhood and are forced to revisit the mansion from which they fled long ago.
Yes, it’s more or less reminiscent of narrative structures as in the movie It (in fact, the narration has a lot of Stephen King), but in this show, there’s a more complex overlapping of the two narratives. We go constantly back and forth in time.
A not so horrifying show structure
It’s not easy at the beginning, but it’s all the more satisfying afterward
At first, some signs help us to navigate through the narrative with messages like “Hill House, the night of the storm”, “California, three months earlier”, etc.
Nevertheless, the viewer needs to be very observant during the first chapters to understand each character, what happens, and what’s their child version from the past.
This is the riskiest maneuver in the show, since, considering that the chapters are very long and that there’s a lot to assimilate, there will be spectators who will surrender before reaching the halfway point of the story.
Because the constant jumps in time will give them a bad headache. If you manage to pass that maze, you’ll be rewarded. By the time you go through the middle of this Netflix show, you’ll have a very intimate knowledge of each of the main characters, you’ll empathize with them and, above all, you’ll be hooked on the story.
Although The Haunting of Hill House is, on the surface, a horror show, it’s more of a suspenseful story, with intense drama and occasional moments of fear.
Sure, you’ll see a lot of ghosts, and your heart will go wild at some points, but most of the story bases on the misfortune of the protagonists and the mystery surrounding them. In that sense, it reminded us a lot of the first season of American Horror Story, without being as perverse as that one.
Precisely, those “ill-fated” moments are the ones that penetrate the spectator the most like the story of the kittens, the impotence around the sleep paralysis, or the mystery of the Lady with the Crooked Neck (we promise you that the conclusion of her subplot will leave you with goosebumps).
On the other hand, the typical “jump scares” occur from time to time, but they are somewhat unimportant due to the rest of the setting, which is much more solid and elaborate.
An exhilarating cast of actors and creative team
Well-known faces for extra quality and originality
Of course, all this unrest wouldn’t work if it weren’t for actors who were up to the task. In that sense, both the adult protagonists and their child counterparts do a spectacular job in the arduous task of transmitting all kinds of emotions, from helpless crying to the most visceral fear.
And, by the way, the casting includes a couple of very curious facts. On the one hand, Hugh Crain (Timothy Hutton & Henry Thomas), the father of the family, played by two different actors, but very similar physically, depending on the stage of the story. The young Hugh played by Henry Thomas is a name that may not ring a bell, but he was… Elliot, the kid from E.T.!
We also have Carla Gugino as Olivia, the mother. She’s been in many projects, but I’m sure you know her for being Sally Jupiter, the first Silkwraith in the movie Watchmen. The rest of the actors are quite experienced in horror projects, so you can be sure they’ll know how to scream.
Now, if there’s someone who has left his mark in The Haunting of Hill House, it’s Mike Flannagan, the director of each episode. It’s surprising that coming from such mediocre projects as Ouija: The Origin of Evil or Gerald’s Game, Flannagan has shown such talent.
He builds the story based on drastic temporal ellipses, very well measured camera angles and such a millimetric staging plan. Without a doubt, the jewel in the crown is episode 6, called “Two Storms“, which builds on the basis of 6 long shots, without cuts, of about 10 minutes each.
In those shots, the actors enter and leave the frame, there are scares, radical changes on the stage and a camera that, based on steady-cam, flies between the changing events without us noticing. Undoubtedly, a planning exercise that could be taught in any film school.
Small details worth bearing in mind
Our conclusion about a good horror story
Until, after the equator of the story, the quick references to small characters or details of previous chapters begin to lighten up, in such a way that they make us jump an “oooh, that’s why” in more than one occasion.
In that sense, The Haunting of Hill House is a show to be watched with a partner or with a group of friends, to comment on key plays of a chapter and to have conversations like “did you notice that?”.
In fact, the show rewards you if you have a keen eye, as you will be able to see fleeting apparitions of ghosts or very subtle references to something that was declared minutes before.
In the realm of criticism, we should mention that, deep down, the general aspects of the plot are overdone; a family that arrives at a new home with a dark past is not something super-new, let’s say.
However, everything is so well constructed, the mysteries are so well interconnected, and the characters are so interesting, that we cannot help but see this tale of mystery, fear, and redemption that awaits inside the red room. Without a doubt, one of the best horror shows of the moment.
Let’s hope that even after this, you still dare to read our recommendations. We’re huge fans of the genre, and especially of The Haunting of Hill House, so you’re sure to find one or more shows that will give you the chills.
American Horror Story
What else did you expect as the first choice? This is a legend of terror
American Horror Story is, without a doubt, one of the great forces driving the horror genre into vogue in television shows and also the resurgence of anthologies as a formula for creating independent stories with a common thematic and creative nexus.
Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk‘s creation is currently broadcasting its ninth season and has had its ups and downs throughout its history, so it can be overwhelming for a new viewer to get into the show without knowing where to start or what seasons to skip.
The logical thing to do at the beginning of a show is to do it at the beginning, but we understand that it can be daunting and tempting to get into the last part of the show to join in the serious conversation.
No problem, American Horror Story resets itself every year and, except for Apocalypse (season 8), it can be viewed scrambled, although there are certain connections and winks between them.
If you want to go straight to the best seasons, you should know that among American Horror Story fans there are usually two sides: those who put the quirky Asylum (season 2) as the best and those who go nuts for Roanoke (season 6). We prefer the second one, although we all agree that both seasons are the best of the saga.
Double the amount of acceleration
Just by watching a few episodes of Netflix’s Chambers, you realize that you’re looking at an engaging show. The story may not be new, but the tone, setting, and characters captivate you, and you won’t stop watching it until you find out what will happen at the end.
With Chambers, you have the same feeling as with other shows like The Sinner or 13 Reasons Why. You won’t be able to stop watching it because you want to get to the end, plus you’ll most likely recommend it to everyone, just so you can talk about it with the rest.
Chambers is about a normal young woman Sasha Yazzie (Sivan Alyra Rose) who has a heart attack the first time she sleeps with her boyfriend. Luckily, a quick intervention allows her to survive.
But it doesn’t end there, as her donor is another young woman named Becky Lefevre (Lilliya Scarlett Reid), whose death is a mystery. Her parents manage to find out who got her heart, and from there, they invite Sasha to their home. Giving her a scholarship to an elite institute and even give her a car.
The endings of each chapter almost compel you to play the next one. And since there are only 10 episodes of about 50 minutes, you’ll be able to see them in no time. The whole cast is worthy of it, even though the only known face is that of Uma Thurman who plays Becky’s mother.
The mysteries continue to grow, and we love it
The Sinner differs from the vast majority of crime shows in that its leisurely pace seems to come from an arthouse movie rather than an entertainment production.
The reason is that in The Sinner there’s hardly any doubt who is guilty, what detective Harry Ambrose (played again by a tremendous Bill Pullman) tries to find out is why.
A much more interesting question, and one that is usually dispatched in this type of show with a line from a high schooler in the middle of a transition scene.
In the latest third season, The Sinner expands with the inclusion of Matt Bommer as Jamie Burns, a much more interesting antagonist character than we had been able to find before.
Burns is a private high school teacher who teaches history and earns the respect of his students while he’s about to have a baby with the woman who has been his wife for almost fifteen years.
However, in this stable life that many dream of, there’s something rotten. That something begins to manifest itself with the appearance of Nick (Chris Messina).
A former college classmate who, through a mentality as attractive as it is childish. Based on Nietzsche’s superman and several other traumas, mixed but not shaken manages to remove the darkest part of Burns’ interior. A plot that some have compared to Fight Club.
Deep in the German forest
Dark is a German show produced by Netflix, and in just three seasons it has become one of the best science fiction, mystery, and drama shows of recent years. This is all you need to know about its present, past, and future.
And they really brought us one of the best developed supernatural plots perhaps of the decade, knowing how to maintain the mystery in a natural, organic way, and always leaving us wanting more.
Dark is not a show like any other. Before its premiere in 2017, it was called “the German Stranger Things”. Something that turned out to be completely false. Dark handles a much more complex, dark, intense and dramatic plot.
Sure, it all takes place in a small town, just like in Stranger Things, and it all also starts with the disappearance of a child, but after just a few minutes in its first episode, things start to get much more complicated.
The whole village seems to be full of secrets, and both young and old will go into unknown territory to try and find the missing child and discover the truth.
On October 9, The Haunting of Bly Manor will premiere on Netflix, the second season of the anthology of haunted houses created by Mike Flanagan.
There are 5 Crain brothers, who not only represent the five stages of grief, but were born in the order in which those stages are experienced: Steve, Shirley, Theo, Luke and, the youngest, Nell.
Due to the success of the first season, Mike Flanagan announced that there will be different independent stories that will all relate to the haunting universe.
The show is based on The Haunting of Hill House’s novel from 1959, which was written by Shirley Jackson.
The exteriors of the Hill House were shot in a mansion in LaGrange (Troup County, Georgia). This property is a magnificent 1920’s English Tudor style mansion located on a large estate surrounded by lovely gardens, on the shores of Lake West Point.
It’s not always the case that a horror show or movie gets the compliments of both critics and audiences. A genre that includes jump scares is going to struggle, no matter where it goes. But the Haunting of Hill House has shown that with a majestic effort, any genre can be adored and respected by all.
Not only is this show one of the most important on Netflix today, but it will also be seen as one of the greatest horror shows of our time. And we’re only talking about ten episodes here!
But the work of both Mike Flanagan and the cast is worth watching multiple times. As soon as the cold nights come in, no other show is up to the task of giving you these kinds of thrilling goosebumps.