The Haunting of Hill House series opener will have you sleeping with the light on.
The latest spooky addition to Netflix is the TV adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Before the series aired, there was already plenty of hype, and it is amazingly ranked 100% on Rotten Tomatoes following its debut on Friday night. Naturally, I was therefore skeptical when I sat down to watch the first episode, not wanting to set my expectations too high and end up disappointed.
This time round, however, my skepticism was completely unnecessary. I was completely blown away by the first episode and am ready to binge the rest of the series this weekend.
The Haunting of Hill House sustains not only archetypal horror but the feeling of sincere terror. It relies not on cheap jump scares (although be warned, when there are jump scares, hold tight) but a recurring feeling of the creeps. I emphasize this because it is not just that the episode contains creepy moments, although there are indeed many. Instead, the overall atmosphere of the show successfully gets under your skin from the start and makes you feel on edge from the first scene to the very last minute.
As well as being admirably frightening, there is already a strong sense of gripping drama building. The characters are versatile and compelling, and we care from the start what happens to them.
The five siblings have suffered something deeply traumatic in Hill House, although it is not apparent exactly what went down yet, and it seems they are all dealing with it in their own way. The youngest, Luke, grew out of his imaginary friends and became hooked on heroin. His twin sister, Nell, also suffers deeply from the events that occurred, while Theo engages in meaningless sexual activities, Steven writes, and Shirley has become hardened and the family’s rock.
The only criticism that could be said of this episode is that it is a little tricky to keep up with all the characters, but they are all so deeply interesting and well-crafted that it is worth paying the extra attention.
Overall, The Haunting of Hill House is the horror series we have all been waiting for. It contains all the ingredients for a successful TV series as well as introducing a far more serious and disturbing feeling of sustained horror and uneasiness that more high-paced shows like American Horror Story lack.