Review Series: The Haunting of Hill House
Mike Flanagan pays homage to Shirley Jackson’s novella.
The Netflix original series “The Haunting of Hill House” shocked this Shirley Jackson fanatic. Before I binge watched The Haunting of Hill House, I checked Rotten Tomatoes to see how the series would hold to my standard of Jackson’s brilliance. I found a critic rating of 92 percent and immediately cleared my plans that weekend.
The series opened the first episode by reading the beginning paragraph of Jackson’s work. Flanagan emphasized, “Hill House, not sane” through his own adaptation of psychological horror, staying true to Jackson’s motif of horror within the human mind.
Unlike Dr. Montague and his assistants in Jackson’s novella, Flanagan told the story of Hill House and internal terror with 10 episodes, through a family of seven known as the Cranes.
Mr. and Mrs. Crane purchased Hill House during the summer in an attempt to flip the house by fall, when the children would return to school. However, adhering to the original novella, Hill House sought to consume. Terrors plagued the Crane family and the project is permanently abandoned.
The five children, Steven, Shirley, Theodora, Luke and his twin sister Eleanor quickly experienced ghostly encounters following their move to Hill House. Flanagan tied Jackson’s novel further into the series through Steven, the oldest brother, who writes a best selling novel about his family’s experience that summer entitled “The Haunting of Hill House”.
Flanagan’s adaptation focused on family drama to reveal the evil within Hill House, rooting each child’s issues mainly within the mother, Olivia Crane. Paying close attention to the mother’s dialogue throughout the series will send chills down your spine. Watching Olivia Crane lose her grip on reality and sink into Hill House’s teeth will have you on the edge of your seat.
My favorite episode in this series by far is episode eight. The acting in each episode is phenomenal, however Carla Gugino as Olivia Crane is unbeatable. Olivia began to distort reality more than ever as the evil spirits in Hill House whisper insane-nothings in her ear. She saw chilling apparitions and exhibited the behavior of a deranged vigilante. I won’t spoil every detail, but trust me, pay close attention during episode eight.
Flanagan flashes from that fatal summer to the present during most of the episodes, gracefully bringing the story line full circle in episode 10. If a 92 percent critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t enough, I highly recommend planning a Netflix night with friends and watching The Haunting of Hill House.