Okay, not really. Pretty damn close though. That’s mostly self-inflicted as I like to go all out when I watch something scary (which is frequently) – lights out, curtains closed, middle of the night on a gigantic television so close to me that I’m emulating the effects of an IMAX experience in my living room… yeah… I go big or go home… wait… I’m already home… never mind.
I stumbled on Netflix’s Haunting of Hill House around Halloween time when I read a friend’s Facebook post about how disturbing it was. Not one to shy away from “disturbing” I decided to dive head first into the abyss. Boy was I glad I did.
Before I continue, be forewarned – minor spoilers are ahead.
From the first episode, I was captivated. Over the course of several nights while everyone else was snug in bed I was binging this macabre adventure, not able to give up steam on the story of the Crane’s and their experience at the disorientingly creepy Hill house.
The core of the story is about a family grieving the sudden loss of their mother in what can only be likened to the loss of a loved one suffering any of the myriad mental illnesses we are faced with like depression and bipolar disorder. Over the course of the ten episodes, we go back and forth between the 1980s and 2000s seeing the family experience firsthand the terrors of Hill house and then coping with those experiences in adulthood. This series balances the emotions of fear, humor, and familial frustration nicely putting me on a roller coaster where one minute I literally get chills up my spine, and the next I’m wiping a tear from my eye.
There were some stand out performances as well including that of Oliver Jackson who plays Luke (as an adult) twin brother to Violet McGraw’s Nell (again, as an adult). I’ve never seen these two in anything before however Jackson’s portrayal of an addict struggling to get clean, only to fail – or so we think, is heart wrenching and frustrating all at the same time while McGraw’s performance of Nell constantly leaves us wondering if she’s struggling with dwindling mental faculties or she truly is haunted by some demonic presence. Either way, she has some of the most touching and frightening scenes in the series…
Overall this is an amazing ensemble piece and I highly recommend it for those who love a good fright and a thought-provoking adventure.
Four out of five stars!