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‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is available to stream on Netflix. (via @_haunting on Instagram)

TV Review: ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is a family drama full of paranormal twists of fate

Almost everyone, especially at this time of year, loves a good haunt. Whether it’s through haunted houses, scary movies or scary shows, we can’t get enough. Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House satisfies that need, while invoking more than one kind of uneasiness. 

After having a peculiar experience with a childhood home, the show follows a family that deals with the repercussions years later. The timeline flips back and forth between the family’s time at the Hill House to current day, and horror unfolds throughout both. 

Each family member experiences something strange in the home, but what they see and how they cope with it varies tremendously. Responses range from suppression and denial to fatal results. 

The twins, Nell (Victoria Pedretti) and Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) not only experience their own strife, but also because of a “twin thing” feel sensitive to each others struggles. Throughout the show, their feelings and terrors are dismissed by the other siblings, but eventually those fears are recognized in full. 

Perhaps what makes the show so real is the array of horrors that are addressed. There are the ones expected from a horror show — ghosts, jumps scares and demonic expressions. On top of those are real fears like opioid addiction, mental illness and losing loved ones. 

The show is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. The show follows the psychological thriller themes and terrors of the book, though it does not follow the plot accurately. There are many differences, including the lack of ghosts in the book, but the character development is pretty similar.

The show’s creator, Mike Flanagan, is known for his work in the world of horror. He has written and directed films like Hush and Oculus. Hush was released only on Netflix, and the positive responses led the streaming platform to support Gerald’s Game, a Stephen King adaptation. 

Flanagan brought in some familiar faces for Hill House. The matriarch, Olivia Crain, is played by Carla Gugino, who also starred in Gerald’s Game. The middle child, Theo Crain, is played by Kate Siegel, who starred in Hush, Oculus and a few others. 

Flanagan’s work in horror is extensive, but this show is on a whole new level. It employs techniques of the classic family horror film and takes viewers on a suspenseful and emotional ride. There are twists and turns — and hidden figures — around every corner, and each episode reveals something new, either about the characters or the house itself. 

Despite being a show for entertainment, a feat that it delivers on extremely well, it also comments on the importance of family and having difficult conversations. Most families that we know of don’t experience alarming paranormal activities, but that lack of communication is an extremely prevalent issue for people everywhere.

The Haunting of Hill House provides the scares that many people seek in a horror television show, but the horror doesn’t take away from the family drama for more fearful viewers. It keeps people hooked through in-depth character development, small dramas and countless secrets that need to be revealed. With strong writing and a gripping plot, The Haunting of Hill House will even rope in viewers who are scared of being scared.


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