The Haunting of Hill House | Review


Photo By Ashley Vanderhoff

The Haunting of Hill House is a Netflix series full of horror and a thrilling plot. The producer purposefully included dozens of random ghosts throughout the episodes to engage the viewers.

     The Haunting of Hill House is an outstanding horror series with excellent twists that focuses around the Crain family, a family of seven who lived in an alleged haunted house in their younger years. The structure of the series is beautiful, panning back and forth between two different eras of the Crain family. The series constantly frightens its audience with classic horror tactics and twists, yet it maintains an exciting and well-written plot, which many horror movies often seem to fail at doing. It also includes an undertone of grief and many powerful messages relating to family. 

     While horror movies can be enticing entertainment, they often receive a bad rap for not meeting expectations of being scary enough. However, The Haunting of Hill House never leaves the audience feeling fully at ease. While the series does a great job of balancing plot and horror, the show is known to continue to freak out its viewers. While the series uses many effective techniques, one of the most well done is the excellent camera angles. For instance, a camera may linger on a dark hallway for a second too long, slowly zooming in and filling the audience with dread as they wait for the incoming jump scare, only to quickly switch to the next scene.

     The subtle horror is the main contributor to the mastery of The Haunting of Hill House, but even so, it is hard to skip over the classic beauty of jump scares. While many horror movies may give hints to their viewers with incoming jump scares through music or tones, The Haunting of Hill House feels no need to provide their viewers the courtesy. For example, in one of the later episodes, two of the daughters from the family, Theo and Shirley, are arguing intensely during a car ride. While the film slowly draws their viewers’ attention to the argument of the two sisters, a woman who appears almost dead pops her head into the frame between them and screams. The jump scare was unexpected and effective, and it would give any viewer an adrenaline rush.

     Frightening the audience is usually the primary goal of a horror film, and the plot often suffers, remaining underdeveloped.  However, The Haunting of Hill House leaves its viewers with chills, not only from jump scares, but the interactions between well-developed characters and the grief they suffer. For instance, Luke, the second oldest of the family by two minutes to his twin sister, was haunted long after leaving Hill House; as a result, he turned to drugs. Consequently, Luke commits unfair actions towards his siblings. All of them eventually begin resenting him, except, of course, his twin sister Nelly. 

     The series sticks to its gruesome drama of horror. For example,  it is known in the beginning that the sister died by suicide,  but it is still painful to watch each character discover the death, especially Luke. As twins, the two always shared a part of each other’s pain, so when Luke began to experience chills and neck cramps, the audience came to the slow realization that he was feeling the results of his sister’s corpse slowly rotting in their own family home. The heartbreaking grief each family member goes through pushes the plot along while allowing turmoil between the characters to advance in natural ways, which is a component of the show that completely captures the watchers’ attention. 

     The plot continues to improve through well-flowing transitions and visual scenes. The story effortlessly pans between the past and future, which allows the viewer to truly understand the grief of each Crain family member and the reasons for their present-day actions. Without such seamless transitions, the viewers would not understand the characters’ experiences nearly as well. For instance, a character may walk through a door in their childhood in Hill House and emerge through the other side as a fully grown adult living their life long after the terrifying childhood home. 

     The Haunting of Hill House does an excellent job of balancing horror elements with the plot. Too many horror series forget the human component of fantastic films, yet the creators of the show did an excellent job. There truly was never an unimaginative moment, and every scene left the viewer shaking from horror or appreciating the character and plot arcs.