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The Haunting of Hill House Review: Gold-Standard TV Horror

Starring – Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino and Elizabeth Reaser
Director – Mike Flanagan
Genre – Horror / Thriller
Streaming Platform – Netflix 

Introduction: Why do we watch horror movies? Do we want to test the range of our emotional content? Do we want to vicariously face our fears through the safety net of a screen? For many of us, Horror films are a small shot of adrenaline that courses through our veins. We are willing to endure the terror to experience the relief we get at the end of it. In that way, this is not my first and nor will it be my last rodeo. From 'The Exorcist' to 'American Horror Stories', I’ve had my fair share of horror flicks. So, it is with much certainty and great pleasure that I say that “The Haunting of Hill House (2018)” on Netflix, is one of the best television horror series in recent times and it is not to be missed. Based on a novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House revolves around a broken family that comes together to confront the disturbing and horrific memories of their old place and the events that drove them from it. 

Rationalization: Directed by Mike Flanagan, this modern reimagining of the novel is a firecracker. Stirring and atmospheric, we are treated to an intense observation of the family to fully understand the effects of grief and trauma. The pace of the series is intentionally slow, but it is measured for perfection. Weaving between past and present, Flanagan allows us to fully understand the seven Crain family members and the trauma they experienced by overlapping several timelines together. We understand how certain events have affected the Crain Family individually even after many years and why it is so important to come back to the old House to confront their fears. Family, Tragedy, Grief, Mental Health are some of the themes that the series has explored in such exultant fashion.

Beneath the horrors and the ghosts that the series promise, there is an actual story of an estranged family that hasn’t spoken to one another in years and are struggling with their own personal addictions and depressions. They are on the verge of succumbing to a fate that has plagued their family in the past and they must come together as one to oppose this. The narrative of this character-driven plot blurs the line between the supernatural and the psychosomatical. The House itself is evil and when you follow the crumb trails that lead you to its neat climax, you’ll be kicking yourself for not seeing the blatant clues that the director has been throwing in your face the whole time.

However, while there are supernatural beings providing the haunting, Grief is the ‘ghost’ that the director has dressed up for this series and that is where the actual scares really are. It is important for me as the viewer to be able to relate to the frights that the film or the television series offer, and Haunting of Hill House is just that. The Hill House exists as a metaphor for the destructive capacity of mental illness and it has taught me that No Ghosts is as scary as the ones that plague your mind. The series is well-acted and complex in its narration and has utilized great wide shots to create some of the best suspense scenes ever. The constant manipulation of the dark background space as well as lights and shadows show us how important camera work is to film making.

Conclusion: The Haunting of Hill House is realistic and it’s slow-building format has approached the complexities of making an effective horror story impeccably. Nerve-Racking, Hair-Raising and Thought-Provoking, The Haunting of Hill House is Gold-Standard Television Horror.

-A Just Stream Editorial by Siddharthen R (@cheeeekyponnama)
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