So , it would seem that the Internet has gone bat-shit crazy for Netflix new series “The Haunting Of Hill House” so I thought I’d better see what all the fuss is about.
Apparently this show will cause you to vomit and pass out – the last time I heard that a film or show was doing that to people was “The Exorcist” – but that’s way back before we had gross-out blockbusters like Saw.
Although if the master of horror Stephen King likes it, it must be worth checking out!
The Haunting (1963) is one of the first ever horror films I can recall watching, it’s super-atmospheric and really well shot, the 1999 version of The Haunting staring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta Jones is more style over substance but a decent remake – both take a few liberties with the original book but are reasonably close.
So, that brings us to the 2018 version which isn’t a remake and more of one of the modern “re-imaginings” that are so common at the moment. The story follows the Crain family: Parents Olivia and Hugh, and children Steven, Shirley, Theo, and twins Luke and Nell as they move into Hill House in order to do it up and flip it so they can put the money towards their “forever house”.
From the moment they move in, the family experiences odd occurrences but are re-assured by the housekeepers – The Dudleys – that nothing untoward is going on but on the first night Nell is certain that a mysterious woman she calls “The Bent Neck Lady” (who looks like the girl in the well from The Ring) is standing at the bottom of her bed.
Warning: Spoiler Alert Below (click to reveal)
I’m not going to go into too many details on what the family sees in the house as I don’t want to spoil it for you. I will say that it didn’t make me hide behind the sofa, vomit or faint – in fact I only jumped once out of 10 episodes, but to get me to jump at all is pretty good going for a film or show!
This is one of those programs that definitely requires watching 2 or 3 times in order to get all of the little details you may have missed the first time around. The story jumps from past to near-present to “yesterday” in no real order and with the near-present and yesterday time periods it can be a little confusing as to where you are in the timeline. I like the way that they edit between the time periods, having a character picking up an apple in “Yesterday” and eating it in “The Past” or opening a door in “The Past” and closing one in “Yesterday” for example. There’s also something happening in the back of quite a few shots and the main action tends to draw you away from these little clues and scares that definitely deserve a re-watch.
As well as the clever editing, there are some fantastically well filmed shots – I’m not sure if they were done in one shot-and-take as they appear or are cleverly put together. For example, the night of the storm (in the episode “Two Storms”) has all of the family in the main entrance hall in the house and this is filmed in a wonderful sweeping shot that revolves around the set and the characters, dipping in and out among them so that you feel as though you’re part of the action.
The acting is superb but the stand-out performances for me were Henry Thomas as the Past Hugh Crain (yes, Elliot from E.T is all grown up now!) and Timothy Hutton as the “Yesterday” Hugh Crain. I don’t know whether Thomas imitated Hutton or they both worked on their character together but the voice and mannerisms are spot on and you can really believe these are two versions of the same person.
The child actors are great considering the scary shit they have to deal with – my one concern is that I can’t see “Past” Luke turning into “Yesterday” Luke – I know plenty of people have Neville Longbottomed in the past but unless he’s had major lasik surgery it’s just not a good fit (although I can see why they chose Julian Hillard as Past Luke as he’s super-cute).
The Yesterday adult characters are well done – although I did get a bit confused to begin with as to who was who as they all apparently use the same hairdresser – there’s only one blonde woman in the show and everyone has quite similar hairstyles (I guess soft waves are in this year) but once you see them a couple of times it makes sense!
See, same hair! Well, okay not exactly the same but you’d think one of them would have like a shorter cut or straight hair!
So, is this show worth watching – it’s a resounding YES from me, the one thing that lets it down a bit is the last episode – I would have rated the series 9 out of 10 if it hadn’t been for the cop-out ending. Maybe I didn’t “get it”, but it just didn’t quite seem to sit with the tone of the rest of the show so I had to knock a point off – yup, a full point deducted just for one episode but as it’s the finale I don’t think that’s harsh.
Warning: Spoiler Alert Below (click to reveal)
I don’t think you’ll faint or vomit but I do think you’ll have a scare or two and will also have a great time watching it – make sure you watch in the the dark with the lights off!