It stands to reason that the Haunting of Hill House story has had an influence on me from a young age. I found stories about hauntings, houses, and the supernatural to be endless sources of inspiration even in my teens. When I was in college and out on my own for the first time, movies like 1999’s The Haunting were popular. At least they were among the fans of horror and supernatural films. It was based on a novel written by Shirley Jackson in 1959. It featured an amazing house full of odd rooms, secret passages, and, of course, ghosts. My eccentric little self pined for that house and still does in a way.
It also boasted a well-known blockbuster director in Jan de Bont and a cast that included Liam Neisen and Catherine Zeta-Jones. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely say, watch it for nostalgia sake. It was pretty well done for the time.
Yet recently, it got a massive makeover and has been the talk of horror movie communities all over the internet. Netflix seems to have spared no expense in the creation of the new series The Haunting of Hill House. And I recently sat down to watch it.
I have to say, this is, in my humble opinion, one of the most well-done remakes in the genre. Once I sat down and watched the first episode, I was hooked. I ended up bingeing and watching the entire available series in one sitting. And I am hoping they continue the storyline for more.
Now, die-hard fans of the original films will point out some blatant deviations from the original storyline. However, I think that the writers did an amazing job of changing just enough of the story to enhance its creep factor, bring it to a modern audience, and still manage to make it feel original. (Which, incidentally, is a bit of a pet peeve of mine with the film industry in the USA, to begin with. More on that in another post.) They took, what some are calling a classic, and altered it enough to really tackle modern issues like drug addiction, mental illness, and child abuse. And I applaud the creators for not shying away from more supernatural and psychic elements as well. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see how different the story of Hill House unfolded with the family who came to live there. It is a deep story that will, I’m sure, resonate with many people.
The visuals elements were immersive and full of subtle nuance. It is one of those series that you could watch several times and still see new things and draw a new conclusion each time you see it. I’m sure I’ll be watching it again myself in the near future. The darkness of the series isn’t found in the jump-scare tactics that most horror filmmakers rely on. Instead, it is in sadness, personal tragedy, pain, and loss where this series manages to pull at your nerves and set you on edge. Those tactics are well-placed and present for those classic horror film aficionados but, I honestly believe that even without those, this story has enough of a horror element to it that it fits the bill.
I admit to being skeptical about this at first. After all, why mess with something that was good, to begin with. But, I am glad to see that horror and suspense are taking a new direction. I hope that we see new voices, new stories, and a continuation of this style of filmmaking.
If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend a Netflix weekend when you can watch the whole thing. Once you start, it will keep you riveted to the very end.
I want to post more reviews about books, movies, and tv series that line up with what I write. So you can see more of these posts in the months to come. Have a suggestion for a series, movie, or book? Why not drop it in the comments for me? Or just tell me what you thought of either the 1999 version of the Hill House story or this new adaptation! I’d love to hear what you thought as well.