Search icon

Movies & TV

09th Oct 2018

Netflix are about to release one of the greatest horror series ever made

Paul Moore

The Haunting of Hill House

Released this week, you’ll be addicted.

Every film fan is well versed in the standard ghouls and goblins that haunt the horror genre.

We’ve spent countless hours watching tales of vampires, werewolves, demons, creepy dolls, slashers, and serial killers, but after leaving the cinema, audiences can safely distance themselves from these big-screen nightmares by saying ‘they’re not real, they’re all imaginary.’

What happens though when these supernatural scares are mixed with the very real – and far more horrific – issues that can tear lives apart and cause irreparable damage?

The result is Netflix’s new horror series, The Haunting of Hill House, which is released on 12 October and we’e delighted to say that the hype is very much deserved.

Here’s why it demands your attention.

The Haunting of Hill House

It stands out

When it comes to your own personal horror preferences, each to their own but we’re very much of the opinion that great films/TV shows are elevated by the characters.

Simply put, if someone is believable and three-dimensional, you’re far more invested in their journey.

On this note, the fact that The Haunting of Hill House unfolds over 10 episodes really lets the show breathe as the scares – and there are plenty of them – resonate more because they’re done with purpose.

With each passing episode, small moments/items/throwaway lines/clues begin to take on more importance and meaning as the mystery of the Crain family slowly unfolds. In terms of the plot, the show flashes between the past and present as we see a fractured family confronting the haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them away from it.

Ultimately, they’re forced to confront ghosts from both timelines, but there’s much more that’s lurking in the shadows of Hill House.

If you’re expecting jump scares every 10 minutes, gratuitous gore and buckets of blood, this isn’t that type of horror.

This being said, there are plenty of scares throughout each episode but if you value things like pacing, character development, mystery, symbolism and clever writing, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.

Also, we’re not going to spoil anything but it also features one of the most brilliant episodes of TV in recent memory.

Funeral parlour, that’s all we’ll say for now.

The Haunting of Hill House

You might see your own family

There’s love in every home, but that doesn’t mean family relationships can’t fall be brutal.

What The Haunting of Hill House does brilliantly is magnify the very real – and horrific things –  that can ruin lives and drive families apart.

Things like greed, depression, loss, grief, addiction, trauma, squabbles over money, deceit, passive-aggression, and far more fatally, an inability to actually pick up the phone and talk to your siblings, can haunt families for years.

Mike Flanagan taps into a universally uncomfortable truth that’s not often portrayed in the majority of horror features – people can be far more monstrous to each other than the scariest monster you can imagine.

In terms of the characters, every single role is well defined and given plenty of room to breathe.

Steven Crain is the eldest boy and the audience’s window into the story – the frustrated writer has repressed every memory of the ghoulish goings on at Hill House and yet, his decision to write a book about the creepy events has caused friction in the family.

When JOE caught up with Game of Thrones star Michiel Huisman, who plays Steven Crain in the show, he told us that the level of ambiguity and mystery in his character is what drew him to the project.

“Understanding that Steven isn’t quite a good guy, or a bad guy, came pretty quickly. Right away, I felt for the guy and I loved the tragedy in the fact he is like this ‘Mr Success’ – the big author that has it all – but it came at such a big price. Was it worth it? I don’t know. He’s sort of plodding through, and there’s no way back.”

Huisman adds: “He’s peddling books that he doesn’t even believe in. The other side is that everything relating to Hill House and his family, he believes can be explained by basically, mental illness. He doesn’t believe that any of the stuff that happen in this house is real. As the season progress, we discover that he’s actually afraid for himself too. He believes that he’s suffering from the same hallucinations.”

In terms of these horrific hallucinations and terrifying visions, the other family members also have a key role to play.

The Haunting of Hill House

Luke and Nell are twins who share something of a psychic connection – a bond that’s put to the extreme during Luke’s various struggles with addiction and Nell’s increasingly fragile take on reality as a demonic figure known as ‘The Bent-Necked Lady’ becomes more prominent.

Elsewhere, the eldest sibling Shirley puts on a steely and determined front but it’s hiding a secret that’s bubbling under the surface and finally, we have Theo. As the middle child, Theo is quite content to be ‘the black sheep’ of the family but her apathy and coldness hide a mysterious power.

Holding things together is the reclusive father, Hugh, and his wife, Olivia.

Within about five minutes, you’ll know just how seismic Olivia is to the whole mystery surrounding the disturbing evil that dwells in Hill House.

The scares will frighten the shit out of you.

We’re now living in a post-Conjuring horror world and director Mike Flanagan fills The Haunting of Hill House with a plethora of ghouls and memorable setpieces.

There’s ‘The Bent-Neck Lady’ that arrives in Nell’s visions causing her to endure crippling sleep paralysis. Elsewhere, the ghost of a very tall man stalks the hallways and with every passing episode, we get closer to unlocking the mystery of the red room.

Aside from this, there are a few incredible jump scares that will cause your heart to leap into your mouth but what elevates the gore from other shows is the fact that these scares genuinely serve a purpose.

We won’t give too much away but there’s one sequence that’s both shocking – in terms of the act itself – and jaw-dropping in terms of the narrative and how it moves the mystery forward.

That episode

Much like most TV shows, The Haunting of Hill House does take some time to find its feet because each episode usually focuses on developing the backstory of one particular character.

Like a jigsaw piece, various plots, scenes and quotes seamlessly blend into each other to give a larger picture of the mystery of Hill House.

Everything and everyone comes together in the sixth episode though.

We’re not going to give too much away but the demons – both emotional and physical – really come to the fore as every character and backstory collides.

In terms of its aesthetic approach, the episode is almost like a play because it’s filmed with extremely long takes, wide lenses and a camera that’s always in motion.

Imagine Six Feet Under mixed with The Conjuring and just like those two, the drama and horror are cranked up as the tension becomes unbearable.

By that moment, you’ll be watching to the end.

Thankfully, horror fans don’t have to wait much longer because The Haunting of Hill House is released on Netflix on 12 October.

Take a look at what’s in store.

Clip via Netflix UK & Ireland

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge