On October 12, 2018, Netflix released all 10 episode of The Haunting of Hill House for everyone to enjoy over the Halloween season. Of course, the perfect timing of the release led to many people binge-watching the entire series — and actually hating themselves for doing so. The more of the series that you watched, the more you dreaded for it to end, as you simply didn’t want it to be over. It’s that kind of feeling and attachment created in the viewer that goes to show you just how creator slash director Mike Flanagan did every single thing right.
From this point forward, there will be some spoilers for The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. If you haven’t yet watched the horror series and would prefer to experience the story for yourself, it would be well advised to stop reading any further.
The series comes from the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, but it isn’t an exact recreation or adaptation. It most certainly isn’t a remake of the film versions that have come out over the years, none of which has been able to capture the true feeling and passion with which Jackson wrote her book.
The Haunting of Hill House has been lauded as one of the best horror series of all time, but it also may have a claim of being the best series of all time in any genre. Each and every episode gets better. The acting is simply superb. The camera work is exquisite, and the soundtrack wraps up the perfection in a beautifully wrapped package.
One of the greatest things that a director can do for a movie or TV series is to get you to care for the characters that you’re watching in front of you. That way, you’ll be more emotionally invested in the good things that happen to them, as well as in the troubles that come their way.
In The Haunting of Hill House, you’re going to constantly hope — and wish — that Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) stays clean or “well.”
You’re going to feel for Theo (Kate Siegel) as she sees things that no one should ever have to suffer through, or witness.
You’ll find yourself angry at Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) and Steven (Michiel Huisman) for being so stubborn — and for not listening to anyone else. At times, you’ll even find yourself yelling at them as if they’re your very own sibling.
The death of Nell (Victoria Pedretti) is going to hit you early on, but it’s going to emotionally wreck you as each episode passes.
Hugh (Henry Thomas / Timothy Hutton) and Olivia (Carla Gugino), may make one reflect upon their relationship to their own parents in real life, so haunting is their portrayal.
You are going to become emotionally attached to every single member of the family — and even some of the side characters, too. There’s no way that you can listen to the monologue given by Mr. Dudley (Robert Longstreet) in the basement and not tear up, or feel like a close friend of yours has suffered a great loss.
Seeing that the series is spread across 10 episodes, it’s not a constant fright fest of jump-scares and freak-outs. The horror is there — complete with spirits and ghosts — along with a slight touch of gore, but it’s the tension that makes the series truly transcendent. It’s the feeling. It’s the anticipation in the narrative that brings out the true fear, and Mike Flanagan knew that he didn’t need to make this something like Friday the 13th.
As he told Vulture, the fear comes in the waiting and the set design.
“Seeing in the dark is a consistent challenge for us. Gothic horror relies on shadows, but also on being able to see the architecture and use it as an accomplice in a scare. Michael devised a pretty beautiful look for our darkness, and the rest was just having fun with the camera frame.”
For as frightening as all of that ends up being, Mike Flanagan’s ability to make you feel as if you are a part of the Crain family is what sucks you in. It’s what makes you scared of not only what is lurking in the dark, but what horrible thing may happen next to your family… err, their family.
The Haunting of Hill House is better than Stranger Things, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, and everything else that Netflix has to offer. That’s not to say that those series aren’t good, or even excellent — but it’s not Flanagan’s creation.
None of those series creators, nor their casts, should feel bad, though. Flanagan’s 10 episode series is also better than NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy, Rectify, Game of Thrones, How To Get Away With Murder, and anything that any other network or channel currently has to offer. It truly is that good.
If Mike Flanagan ends up creating a second season of The Haunting of Hill House for Netflix, it’s going to have a lot to live up to. Sure, there will likely be a brand new story focused on an entirely new family, but will it be able to compare to the story of the Crain family?
It’s going to be a difficult task, but with Mike Flanagan at the helm of the series, it’s easy to see how every single piece of the puzzle that is the plot is put into perfect place.