The Haunting of Hill House: The Great Unwatched

We wander back into Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House in our new series highlighting some under-the-radar streaming shows and movies

Feature by Caroline Ring | 04 Mar 2020
  • The Haunting of Hill House

It's the golden age of sitting in the house, streaming multiple TV shows at once or watching a brand-new film in the bath. But for every mega-hit like Game of Thrones or Marriage Story there are dozens of freshly-made series and films just waiting to be discovered, and hundreds of hours of classics sitting there with no-one watching them. That's what this new series is all about – unearthing some of the most interesting, intriguing and inexplicable wonders on Netflix, BBC iPlayer, MUBI, All 4, and the various other streaming platforms you're subscribed to.

As an amateur horror spectator, The Haunting of Hill House (2018) was not on my radar, but when traveling down the streaming rabbit hole, the acclaim from The Haunting of Hill House’s viewers made the enticing plot even more appealing. Sitting on the Netflix shelf since its debut, The Haunting of Hill House is loved by those who do come across it but has yet to really break through as a 'must-watch'.

Who's behind The Haunting of Hill House?

Horror veteran Mike Flanagan recreates Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name with new plots inspired by Jackson’s original themes and characters. Having written, created, directed, produced, and edited The Haunting of Hill House, Flanagan clearly seems to believe he knows what he is doing when it comes to crafting quality, nail-biting productions. In this instance, the method to Flanagan’s madness leads me to agree.

Who stars in The Haunting of Hill House?

Victoria Pedretti, otherwise known as Love Quinn in season two of Netflix’s You; Carla Gugino, the OG cool mom in Spy Kids; Henry Thomas, a Mike Flanagan favorite (Doctor Sleep, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game); McKenna Grace, a child star who seems to be popping up in movies everywhere (Gifted, Captain Marvel, Annabelle Comes Home).

What’s the show like?

The Haunting of Hill House opens with a narration that makes the show seem approachable for scaredy-cat thriller fans. However, as the season unfolds, the horrors of the show are unveiled in all their terrifying glory. Packed with mystery and suspense, The Haunting of Hill House spotlights five siblings forced to relive their torturous past in order to face their daunting future.

Building up to be a series mimicking the success of standalone-yet-interwoven shows like American Horror Story, Hill House crafts a ten-episode season with similarly ominous themes and stirring performances from its cast. While season two is set to introduce Flanagan’s take on horror novelist Henry James’ creations, Hill House sets the foundation of a new anthology series that reinvents familiar ghost stories with unpredictable twists and turns. Members of the cast have announced their return as new characters for the upcoming season, so you can allow yourself to get attached / become consumed by the hair-raising horror.

Why should I watch it now?

If you’re looking to spice up your life with a serving of psychological terror, The Haunting of Hill House will certainly do the trick. Adding depth to the familiar narrative of a tormented mansion possessed by its past inhabitants, The Haunting of Hill House showcases how grief and loss ultimately shapes our innermost fears. Also, there won’t be another season of AHS until at least the autumn (or until the 1984 season arrives on Netflix), and you’ll need to be terrified by something while you wait.

So, is it worth watching?

Absolutely, if you don’t mind sometimes watching through your fingers. The Haunting of Hill House is gripping and harrowing to its core. Looking at the complexities of broken families and interlacing gruesome ghosts along the way, each episode of The Haunting of Hill House changes the storyline’s perspective to leave you craving a comprehensive conclusion.

What to watch next

Hemlock Grove
Also adapted from a book, Hemlock Grove reimagines Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name and is produced by horror big-timer Eli Roth. Featuring similar mysterious underpinnings and tropes of secrecy, Hemlock Grove centers around a small Pennsylvania town and its sinister inhabitants.

If psychological-turned-real life horror is your thing, but you feel like you’ve seen enough American literary adaptations, try out French horror series Marianne. With a predominantly female cast, Marianne follows an author tormented by her demonic nightmares, initially unaware of their genuine existence.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Maybe you like the thrill of a good scare but The Haunting of Hill House was a little too scary? Try Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s dark origin story. Expect coming-of-age plot lines shaded by sacrificial witchcraft rather than pure, gruesome out-and-out terror.

Gerald’s Game
Want more of Mike Flanagan and Carla Gugino? Then Gerald’s Game is the film for you. With Gugino left handcuffed to a bed after a sexual attempt gone wrong, this adaptation of Stephen King’s book of the same name will fill your Flanagan needs.

The Haunting of Hill House season one is streaming now on Netflix