MenagerieRant and Rave: The Haunting of Hill House
Rant and Rave: The Haunting of Hill House
December 17, 2018
December 17, 2018

Tis the season to be jolly, but before we bask in all things merry and bright, let us look back at all things grim and spooky. October is a month associated with Halloween and all things horror, so it is no surprise that a lot of scary movies and shows are released during this time. One product of October 2018 was the crowd-favorite show, The Haunting of Hill House.

This Netflix original is composed of ten episodes that are each an hour long, meaning its slow-burn nature might come across as dragging to some viewers. In The Haunting of Hill House, we follow the present lives of the Crains through memories of their past. The story was told through flashbacks, meaning a scene could shift from present to past during any given moment, which is why it is impossible to watch the show half-way. You must tune in from the beginning to clearly understand the entire narrative. While that may sound messy, the transitions were smooth, and viewers will not have a hard time distinguishing the time period due to clear indications such as the character casting, clothing, etc.

 

Consistencies and Contrasts

One thing I noticed was that the younger actors and actresses actually resemble their older counterparts. Sometimes, shows would cast young actors that look nothing like the character they are supposed to portray, but in Hill House, there was a sense of consistency and even appropriate contrast. They may not resemble each other perfectly, but details such as having similar facial structures, hair texture, and wardrobe made it work.

The wardrobe of each character tells us a lot about them and how different or similar they are. We see this contrast when we compare the clothing of young (Julian Hilliard) and present day (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) Luke. During his youth, he can be seen dressed in bright colors, but in the present, he is often shown wearing dull outfits. His baby face and large glasses were replaced by sunken eyes and a rougher exterior. We can see how different he is and how much he has changed since then.

I appreciated the small details such as statues subtly moving their positions, the long-takes (scenes that were shot in one take, which makes us feel like we are following the events in real time), and even the filters used in the show itself. The use of lighting added an artistic touch. Since components such as other ghosts lurking around the house were not emphasized, it gave me the chance to engage with the show. At one point, I had to replay a certain scene more than three times, so I could prove that there was something standing behind the mother. This allowed me to be an active viewer, and I had to constantly ask myself if I was the only one who saw something shift in the back or noticed that the character said something off.

I liked their use of a solid filter. The vintage feel of the flashbacks will make you feel like you are in the house with the family, and the dull cast of the present day will make you remember and realize what the characters are currently experiencing.

 

Deep Focus

The series did not need intense gore or over-the-top characters. The plot itself was enough to keep you hooked. It was so simple, yet the execution of the scenes and the way they presented the story made it stand out.

Personally, I did not find the show scary. There were terrifying scenes, yes, but I was so engrossed in the story, I found that the ghosts we see in the show do not compare to the ghosts that lurk in the minds of the main characters. The mind is such a powerful thing, often times we overestimate the ghosts that we see, some ghosts aren’t even ghosts. Sometimes they’re just reflections of our fears. Fear paralyzed and tore the Crain family apart, each of them had to eventually confront the terrors they avoided for so long. The scariest part of this was how real and honest they had to get with themselves. They had to confront and face their ghosts first-hand.

 

 

Thinking Out Loud

The Haunting of Hill House holds a lot of potential. It is not life-changing, but I still enjoyed watching it. As a person who watches horror movies only when I feel like it, I felt proud of myself for finishing this and not being afraid to sleep alone afterwards. Normally, I would reflect on shows that I watch and think about it for a while. However, my experience with this show was different. When I finished the last episode, I remember telling my dad “I’ll absorb this tomorrow,” because there was a lot to ponder over. I knew that once I started reflecting over everything that conspired, I would just fall into a pit of questions and realizations.

It is not possible to look at Hill House in a linear way. Every detail had a purpose, and each purpose was yet to be realized. You can learn something from each and every situation or character if you looked hard enough. It is more than just a horror series, it is also an opportunity to reevaluate the ghosts in my life. The characters dealt with different types of ghosts throughout the entire show, and it made me think about the ones that surround me. Are they haunting me or do I choose to get haunted?

Rating: 3.5/4