The Haunting of Hill House

Netflix Original The Haunting of Hill House title
Netflix Original The Haunting of Hill House title

The Haunting of Hill House is not the horror show we need, but it’s the one we deserve. This is a new Netflix Original that launched a few weeks ago on October 12th. Since then, it’s been a sensational hit. For a while, it carried an impressive 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but that has since dipped down and now sits around 90% which I think is more fitting if a bit generous.

The critics are right, there’s a lot of things that the show does well, but there are also a lot of things that make the story cliche which I think can be avoided in the horror genre as there are endless opportunities. I wasn’t overly surprised by any of the reveals, but I still enjoyed how clever they tried to be for some of them.

The bent neck lady standing at the foot of Nelly's bed.
The Bent Neck Lady

It’s not a scary show, but rather elegantly creepy which works well considering the style of the house’s architecture and furnishings. I enjoy horror when it takes the more whimsical path. Horror doesn’t always have to be perverted, or all about jump scares and nightmares. It can be something like a bad dream that sits with you wrong, and dreams are indeed a lasting metaphor throughout this series. Overall the acting, cinematography, and ghosts are beautiful and well done. The show did a marvelous job at making me want to watch it. In fact, I binged it all in one sitting. I was on board up until around episode 7 or 8.

Nelly in the morgue
Victoria Pedretti as Nelly Crain

I genuinely have a fair amount of positive things to say about The Haunting of Hill House. I only have a few negative things, but the negative things the show left me with are so overpowering that it left a bad taste in my mouth so much so that I can’t say this was the best thing I’ve ever seen. It could have done so much; it had so much going for it, but it just didn’t get there.

I’m not sure if it’s sheer ignorance or willful blindness, but this show is in no way unique. It does nothing to change the horror genre or bring anything new to it. After all of the ranting and raving about it, I expected it to be revolutionary, but it wasn’t, and the critics blasting its praise sits with me wrong.

The whole story circles around this one room that no one can seemingly get into. Except the twist was that everyone had been in that room throughout the show at some point; it was just the room that they needed at the time, and it was different for everyone. It was a dance room for one girl and a game room for another boy. The room gave to the children various cursed objects that were then used as plot points. Huh, just like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter.

The show also leads the viewer to believe that the wife is crazy and that she tried to kill her kids. I kept thinking that all of the walking around the subject meant that it was just a red herring, but it wasn’t. The wife was crazy and tried to kill her kids. Do you know how old that motif is? Do you know how tiresome it is to see yet another horror show talk about the mental illness and instability of a woman? It’s been done before. For the love of God, please move on from that subject matter! The ghosts as the antagonists were great, the mother as an antagonist wasn’t great.

The mother's tea party with her children in the red room.
Olivia Crain’s tea party

The whole purpose of this mother character was to create an unrealistic expectation of motherhood. I’m sure the writers were riding on the fact that we should feel sad when we see her at her lowest. In the beginning, she’s quirky, kind, patient, and all of these cute things so much so that she easily becomes the worst character. She’s worse than the drug addict brother, and worse than the emotional wall building bitch sister. She becomes what we in the fan fiction world call a Mary Sue. She’s perfect, everyone loves her, she’s got these clairvoyant cool powers, and all of that was an instant trigger for me. I stomached her scenes because I wanted to get the entirety of the picture, but you can bet your ass that I did a lot of groaning whenever I saw her stupid smiling face come on screen.

Olivia Crain
Carla Gugino as Olivia Crain

Even in her insanity, she’s a Mary Sue. This seems contradicting, but it’s true. She doesn’t dwindle from a perfect woman to a seething puss pocket of an individual, but rather she whimsically acts like everything is a dream. In the very end, she kills herself and her ghost awakens beside her, staring up at her husband and says, “I’m having the strangest dream,” before she wanders away in her flowy white dress. It was perhaps the most cliche thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve thought of countless scenes like that as a child.

I was expecting something more if the critics were going on and on about it. If this series got more of a realistic rating perhaps around an 80% I’d be happier, but the fact that everyone loved this show makes me want to throw a brick through my television.

It doesn’t deserve this much song and praise. Stop it!!!!

Overall, it’s a decent spooky time, but it’s not the best thing that I’ve ever seen. Also, episode 8 has one of the best jump scares I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Well done on that one. I’ll give you that!

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