TV Reviews

TV Review: The Haunting of Hill House

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TITLE: The Haunting of Hill House

GENRE: Horror/Mystery/Drama

RELEASED: October 12, 2018

CAST: Carla Gugino, Michiel Huisman, Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel

MY RATING: 5/5

MYΒ IMDB RATING: 10/10

 

 

 

What does an average horror fan expect from a highly anticipated horror series which is also an adaptation of a cult novel? It seems that the opinions are very mixed. Some expected gore and a multitude of cheap jump-scares. Some expected ghosts in every scene but no jump-scares at all. Some expected a faithful adaptation of the book. None of them got what they wanted and the displease is evident in comments sections around the internet: “Cheap jump-scares every 20 minutes”; “A horrible adaptation”; “No jump-scares, too much drama”; “A horror version of ‘This is us’ “; “Too many flashbacks”. Then, why is The Haunting of Hill House currently holding a 9.1 overall rating on IMDB, something extremely rare for horror genre? Let me tell you.

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First of all, this is not an adaptation of the novel, and you should know that before you watch it. This series is only inspired by the book. It took the Hill House and put it in a completely different setting, with different characters and events. It’s an homage to Jackson’s novel, and it pays her respect in every episode. There are repeating character names, some powerful quotes from the book, a character is named Shirley, and you can even see one character reading “The Lottery”, but that’s it. These are all nods to the original work from which the house was borrowed and used to create something on a whole different level – a masterpiece. For me at least.

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The Haunting of Hill House has no flashbacks. If the timeline is equally divided between two time periods – you can’t call the older ones flashbacks. I’ve seen many people having trouble with this, so let me put it simply so you can decide for yourselves if you want to watch it or not – there’s nothing simple here. This isn’t a show to pass your time or to watch it before bed and fall asleep halfway. It is the kind where you have to pay attention, where every single scene and dialogue bit has a certain importance, a show filled with symbolism and hidden things you may or may not see the first time you watch it. It’s a puzzle. I’ve talked about this before, with shows like Castle Rock and Dark. It’s the kind of thing where you have to actively participate in and turn on your brain cells. Some like this, others not, I totally get that, but the whole point of me saying this is that all those negative comments out there come from people who don’t usually like this kind of thing but they watched it because they expected gore and jump-scares. If you’re one of the people who does like this type of thing, please continue reading.

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The mini series revolves around the Crain family: father Hugh, mother Olivia, the eldest child Steve, then Shirley, Theo(dora), and the youngest, the twins Nell and Luke. The main timelines are then and now. Then: The Crains flip houses, and the last one they bought, The Hill House, is supposed to be their last, where they should earn enough money to build their own permanent home – the forever house. After only a single day in Hill House, strange and horrifying things start happening to each child, and the parents dismiss these events as nightmares and try to find a logical answer to the hauntings. Tension and fear build up quickly and result in a horrible tragedy which drives all family members, except one, out of the house. Now: Twenty-six years later, the Crain children are stranded from their father because of the secrets he still keeps about that last night in Hill House, but they are relatively close to each other. Steven is a successful author, mainly because he recounted the haunted house events in his first novel; Shirley runs a funeral home – a choice deeply influenced by her time spent at Hill House, and Theo, a children’s psychologist, lives with Shirley’s family; Luke is a heroin addict jumping in and out of rehab, and he’s long lost his sibling’s trust; Nell is the most tortured soul of them all, being the only one who’s brought the horrors from Hill House out of the house and into her adult life. Then another family tragedy strikes, and once again the answers are nowhere to be found.

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As I’ve said, the show constantly jumps from then and now, with a couple of important scenes in between, but the lines are seamless, the camera movements are beautiful and each frame is amazing and has something to tell, especially if you look hard enough. The cast is excellent, both the adults and kids, but I prefer the kids slightly more. The period in Hill House is gorgeous, the set is utterly Gothic, claustrophobic and haunting, and Carla Gugino as Olivia is a Gothic queen, in the ranks of Morticia Addams and Lily Munster. The modern period is equally terrifying and claustrophobic, because even outside the house, this whole family still feels its grip on their thoughts, relationships and even their sanity.

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I can’t say much else because this show is a yarn you’ll want to unravel yourself, it’s delightful, original, creepy and painful at times, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience filled with beautiful imagery and spooky secrets which will follow you to bed once you’re done watching.


 

Anyone watched this yet, or are you planning to? If you did, what did you think? Let me know in the comments and no spoilers please. πŸ˜‰

 

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38 thoughts on “TV Review: The Haunting of Hill House

    1. Thank you! I don’t think so. :/ First because I was disappointed but I still really love the show so I don’t want to rant about it. I’m kind of in denial of the last few episodes. And second, because I haven’t reviewed all the other seasons, it seems more concise to review mini-series, I’ll do more of those in the future! πŸ™‚

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      1. Aww, too bad, I’d love to hear other peoples’ thoughts! For me, and this may be unpopular opinion, the showrunners D&D did an amazing job of wrapping up the ending, tying all the loose ends and whatnot. I liked the Dany transformation, but I understand it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
        Will you review the final books by GRRM when they come out? I hope they will be as epic as the show! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hmm well in that case I doubt you’d like my review. πŸ™‚ I didn’t like the final outcome and how some character arcs seemed to be rushed. I did like Dany’s transformation too, that’s what I was expecting all along, but I think it could have been better explained with a few additional episodes. I wish I could refer you to a positive review of the last season, but all I’ve read are bittersweet at best. πŸ™‚

          I will, of course! Though who know when will that happen. 😁 However! I did recently buy Fire and Blood by Martin, I plan to read and review it in the upcoming month or so, so maybe that would be something you’d want to read. πŸ™‚

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        2. Maybe I’m biased because I love all things fantasy, but that’s just me πŸ™‚

          Your blog is lovely by the way, keep up the good work!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I need to watch this!
    All those comments you mentioned are super confusing. Why do people complain about flashbacks if there aren’t any? πŸ˜€ Classic tho…
    I haven’t read the book, and still not sure if i will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you do!!

      Well…because people always have a need to complain for some reason. πŸ˜€ Otherwise there’s no point in comments section on anything. πŸ˜€ That’s 2018 in a nutshell, complaining on everything. πŸ˜€

      I have to admit I loved the series much more than the book. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha thanks! 😁 Oooh watch it again and try to find the hidden ghosts πŸ‘» Yess she is gorgeous and looks so different with longer hair, and she absolutely nailed the role, she should win an Emmy if you ask me 😊

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  2. Amazing review! I like the idea of changing the story into something else instead of being a straight adaptation of the book. It sounds so atmospheric! I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to watch, I’m so-so on horror but it does sound really captivating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚ Me too, this turned out much better than it would if they adapted the book line by line. Oh it is, you can really feel the house as an entity, almost like a character of its own. πŸ™‚ If you do watch it I hope you love it, it’s more of a psychological mystery/drama than horror, that’s why all the horror “fans” are complaining. πŸ˜€

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    1. Thanks Gerry! πŸ™‚ I’ve just finished the book, so a review is coming soon, the book is more pure haunting, like the effects of the house on one’s mind, nothing scary. The show is way more complex than that, I’d say it’s primarily drama, then mystery, then horror. There are several gory scenes in terms that the ghosts sometimes appear as decaying corpses and sometimes normally, as when they were alive, but each of these scenes is brief and that’s not at all the main strength of the series which is mystery and the haunting of the mind. If you do watch it I hope you like it! πŸ™‚

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        1. I’ve just started binge watching The Haunting of Hill House and I have to say…. I’m on episode 8 after 3 days and am loving it!!!! It’s not at all what I was expecting but I’m liking what it is. Ah, it used to be tradition to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve so I’m trying to bring that back by reading some!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing review! I loved the book and I loved this show! Two different entities altogether and not mutually exclusive. I think people who love the book will appreciate the show on another level but it’s not necessary to have read it first. I loved it so much and now I’m sad I can’t watch more lol.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It will be interesting to see if they do a second season, but I think it will be about another family or something different. As much as I miss it, the ending was perfect for me, and I would be content if they ended it there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, I’ve read some speculations about that, and it would be great if they did an anthology with various haunted houses/places, but if they focus on the Hill House, I can only imagine a past timeline with other residents like the Hills, because I also love the ending, it’s perfectly done and there’s no point in dragging it further. πŸ™‚

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