Halloween 2022: Oct. 14ᵗʰ – Netflix’s The Haunting Of Hill House

This is going to be a very short review. Almost anything I say would ruin something for someone, and The Haunting Of Hill House is so good that I refuse to do that. Click the pic and I’ll tell you as much as I can.

“No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for a hundred years before my family moved in and might stand a hundred more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

I’ve read people calling this the “first season” of Hill House, but the way things were wrapped up in the finale, I seriously doubt there will be a second season. I don’t think there was meant to be. This story is pretty much perfect as is.

I’ve reviewed the first seven episodes of Hill House, and I gave them a 7.5 out of 10. That rating is now insufficient. When viewed as a whole, the series has a surprising amount of emotional resonance. And the ending, while not technically a happy one, is as happy and satisfying as was ever going to be possible considering the devastating and depressing events that plague anyone unlucky enough to attract the attention the titular haunted house.

Speaking of Hill House, there is a specific piece of information that would have been of great help to me going into this series. It will spoil nothing, I promise. In fact, it almost certainly would have been in the trailer or on the movie poster had this been a feature film. At no point that I can recall is this knowledge ever explicitly given to the audience, despite the fact that knowing it, I believe, can only enhance the viewing experience. So I’m going to tell you now what I wish I had known: anything, anything, that dies in Hill House becomes a ghost and remains there forever.

It’s not easy to pinpoint the single best thing about Hill House. My first instinct is to say it’s Olivia Crain, played by the incomparable Carla Gugino, who we see at the very end of her decades long descent into madness. Her smiles, forced through the teary-eyed pain caused by a lifetime of paranormal torment, are both frightening and deeply sympathetic. Her performances are so impressive that I’m beginning to think there is no role Carla Gugino cannot enhance with her mere presence. Or, if we look to the antagonists, the best thing about Hill House could easily be the Floating Man. I have never witnessed a more terrifying portrayal of a ghost. The Floating Man is goddamned disturbing. I’m also tempted to say it was Nellie, played FLAWLESSLY by both Violet McGraw as a child and Victoria Pedretti as an adult. Nellie was immediately my favorite character, and her story, which both parallels and outstrips the supernatural torture her mother endured, drives the narrative of the entire series. If the repeated tragedy of Nellie’s life doesn’t break your heart, then you don’t have one. But I think the very best thing about The Haunting Of Hill House is that it is genuinely scary. Not just startling. Not just gory. It’s a legitimately scary ghost story. And when October rolls around, you really can’t ask for more than that.

I give Netflix’s The Haunting Of Hill House a 9 out of 10. Watch. This. Show.

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