The Haunting of Hill House: Spooks and Disappointments

I binged watched all 10 hours of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and holy shit I’ve been spooked ever since.

With the direction of horror movie/thriller expert Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game, Hush, Oculus) the show was packed with all the jumps and twists to have you turning on all the lights and checking around every corner. I currently can’t sleep with my back to the door.

But after eight hours of scares, the last episodes were let-downs. Why did it have to get so corny at the end?

The first eight episodes take you through a labyrinth of heart-pounding situations. You’re constantly biting your nails and hoping the character doesn’t walk into that dark den or you’re pointing out the hidden faces that you almost miss in the background.

The series is loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, which has been reinterpreted into a film time and time again. But this is the first time it has been given the chance to grow over 10 one-hour long episodes—giving the story’s horror even more room to grow.

Flanagan keeps original character names like Theodora, Eleanor, Luke and Hugh, along with a few specific personality details like Theodora’s psychic ability and Eleanor’s attachment to the house. The series has a family unknowingly moving into a haunted house and skips between when they’re kids in the haunted house and their adult lives. But in the novel, the characters, unrelated to each other, visit the haunted house for a paranormal investigation.

By skipping between time periods, the story becomes a tense but relatable tale of family drama. While family issues unfold throughout the series, a classic haunted house horror movie takes place. Ghosts from the house’s past torture these characters as children, some more than others, which manifest into adult hauntings.

By the end of the series, it’s clear time works in a strange way inside Hill House. Things that spooked the kids in the past sequences are things actually happening in the current storyline and vice versa.

Throughout the series, characters talk about an unseen and inaccessible red room. When it’s finally opened in the finale, the adult version of the children get trapped in this room and the house reveals all their insecurities and flaws, in a the spookiest way possible, of course.

But even with the spooky treatment, the last two episodes end this show on a sappy note, instead of a horror one. There’s nothing scary anymore. It’s all just cheesy lines like “ghosts are guilt, ghosts are secrets, ghosts are regrets, and failings … but most times, a ghost is a wish.”

Ghosts are wishes? Seriously? That ending was a bummer for people who really wanted to be spooked. And that’s not really what Hill House is supposed to be about. It was “born bad,” people. It shouldn’t have any ounce of humanity in it.

That said, even with those underwhelming final episodes, the series is required viewing for the 2018 Halloween season. You’ll be afraid of the dark by the end, even if you’re a little disappointed.