The Haunting of Hill House
Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name, this Netflix horror series follows siblings who grew up in Hill House – a family home that would go on to become the most famous haunted house in the country – and how it has affected them as adults. But it’s not just a story about horror, it’s also about generational trauma and how each member of the Crain family deals with the traumatic events of their childhood in different ways.
The show begins with the five children – Steven (Paxton Singleton), Shirley (Lulu Wilson), Eleanor (Nell Crain), Theo (Mckenna Grace) and Luke (McKenna Grace) – all in the middle of a tragedy that has driven them apart. They are now forced to reunite and reexamine their past and what it means to them in the present.
There are two separate timelines: one that takes place when the family is young and living in Hill House, and another that unfolds twenty years later when they reunite and the hauntings of their childhood begin to affect them again. The series alternates between the two, and each episode will follow a different character up to their “future” moment before setting the stage for the next installment.
It’s a powerful way to draw out how the ghosts in Hill House affect each member of the family and to explore their own trauma as they grow older and face their own losses. And it also makes each of the episodes feel fresh and new as it explores the Crain family’s history from a new perspective.
The Haunting of Hill House is a terrifying spin on Jackson’s novel, which has been read by millions and praised for its harrowing tale of ghosts and grief. But Mike Flanagan, a veteran of the genre, has made it his own and crafted a horror-infused drama that’s stylish, spooky and achingly human.
In the novel, a group of occult scholars and psychics spend time at Hill House to investigate the paranormal events there. They’re joined by a haughty academic and her assistants, including an enigmatic woman named Eleanor Vance.
But unlike the occultists in the novel, who are interested in exploring the paranormal without worrying about the personal repercussions, Eleanor is very much in tune with the power of Hill House. She’s a loner who has spent her life caring for her mother, and she can’t help but feel drawn to the spooky, old-fashioned mansion.
While Jackson’s novel does have its share of frightening moments, there are also moments of redemption and hopefulness that remind you of how much humanity is capable of when it is allowed to connect. Throughout the series, we see characters in the shadows of Hill House, but it’s never until Eleanor is able to escape that she feels the true extent of the house’s presence.
What’s more, the show reveals that some of the family members have been scarred for life by their experiences in Hill House. It’s not just Olivia and her children who are shattered by their past; Eleanor’s sister, Poppy (Katie Parker), is also inexplicably haunted.