Chills & Confetti. Terror & Tea Parties. [REVIEW] THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE:

The Haunting of Hill House Review Netflix 2018

I loved you completely. And you loved me the same. The rest is confetti.~ Nell Crain, The Haunting of Hill House

Hand me another box of tissue..please. 

The way Nell delivered that line - you bet I bawled my eyes out. And there is no way at all that I was ashamed to admit it.  

The Haunting of Hill House  - let me be honest here. 

The moment episode 10 had finished, I decided to draft this post. 

Pile of used tissues scattered around my bed, watery eyes, headache creeping, the heck? This is just an ordinary flu, I think.

There I was, staring at my screen. My fingers frozen.  Not a single tap on this keyboard. I asked myself where is this gnawing discomfort coming from? Erm.. Was I really that spooked by this show I actually fell sick right after? Then it occurred to me. More than the physical pain,it was the memories - the most painful thoughts, anger, grief, trauma -they kept me numb for a while. I can't think, I can't seem to write a single thing.  

Not because I was scared but because I was lost.Just how the show slowly took my hand from the very beginning, then nonchalantly let it go after I felt nothing. 

That last line didn't come from Theo Crain btw. Rarely have my feelings about a horror TV show been so deranged and I can't recall the last time I got REALLY scared - besides checking my credit card bill or the endless pinging of my work mail inbox and whatsapp chat group -boss needs this, boss needs that shit..blah blah. 

Besides the real terror of this world can't compare to cancer or being broke af.

As everyone in the Netflix world was talkin' bout  The Haunting of Hill House, I finally turned myself in into watching it. Let's just call it a fleeting desire to be scared.

Waited for sundown, curtains drawn, steaming popcorn bags, candles lit. Hell yeah, I was so ready for this show.

Watching The Haunting of Hill House somehow requires a docile approach. I've always been a horror film freak, I've not been scared for a long time but there was something really unique about this show.  

HHH starts off with a slow burn, takes you on a ride -as riveting as it is, til you reach the paranoia's peak. You might think on how a house actually wreaked havoc into the Crain family or was it really the house that's hunted or the ones living inside it turned it into one? My only advice? Watch it with an open mind. 

Enter Episode 1 and it already got me hooked. 
The terror is psychological beyond those spine-chilling moments. 
The makes of a brilliant, well-structured show. 

Flanagan just managed to mix everything in one - the setting, the pacing, tension, cinematography, my list could go on forever. Somehow he managed to make HHH float in between the unreal and the mundane. He used a family melodrama to enhance its horror and that's what makes an insanely good show. But then again, HIll House? Not sane.

If you've read Shirley Jackson's top rated 1959 novel, (carrying the same title) you'd very well know that she's one mental or mind manipulator type of author - a classic one at its best and Flanagan is her modern day ally.

Netflix outdid themselves this time with HHH and do I foresee a slew of nods that this is by far the best horror - or thriller series ever shown on TV. 

the plot.
The Haunting of Hill House spins on 2 point of views. 

The Before. 
It unfolds when the Crain Family moved into the Hill House one summer to flip it,  fix and resell to build their own "forever house." So the Crain moves in to a house purported to be haunted but did anyone actually care if it was hunted in a 'traditional' way or was it something else? 

Odd incidents started rolling at once at the Hill House, it then caused those characters to be confronted with mind-boggling questions, leading them further to the deepest corners of their subconscious minds. These "ghost of Hill House" experiences plagued their childhood and even after abandoning the wicked house, it really didn't vanish.   

The What Comes After
Unfortunate events that led to point of view 2. How did the 5 siblings manage to survive their short stint in Hill House? Whether they like it or not - growing up, each of them carried their so-called 'own' ghosts - and it's not pretty. They're forced to confront their pasts and find a way to deal with their strained relationships. What better way to reunite them? Nell's (shocking) death. 

the crain siblings and what they represent.
The siblings represented the stages of grief after a human's death encounter. 

(DENIAL) SteveA book author, whom all his life stood firm on his ground that ghosts aren't real. He blames his dad for the death of his mom because his father didn't tell them what really happened on that "LAST NIGHT" at the Hill House. 

He was so afraid of having a child on his own that he even got himself a vasectomy. Even forgot to tell his wife about that too...seriously Steve?  In spite of the success of his book, deep inside he felt empty and lonely. 

The confrontation scene wherein he was questioned by Nell and he just stood there, batshit frozen. 

(ANGER) Shirley. She became the instant mother figure to all of her siblings (after all the unfortunate events); owns a mortuary and grew up with so much hate and manipulates everyone - even her own husband. Haunted by Mr. Handsome Toast Man. 

The funeral scene wherein she stares at her own cadaver. The words spoken by the guy mortuary owner hit all the right notes - he described Shirley as prim, proper and perfect outside but deep inside she was all ugly and rotten because of the dark secret she has been hiding from her family. 

(BARGAINING) Theo. The middle child who isolated herself, possess ESP (Extrasensory Perception) and loathes commitment. She's also afraid to open up to other people. 

I admire her bravery - ever since they were kids, she takes care of Luke, even Nell. She might look tough on the outside but she's a softie deep inside. She's afraid of love itself - not willing to compromise, opts to build a wall to isolate herself from others. She reminds me of Mr. William Hill actually. I think it's better if Mr. HIll haunted her instead of Luke. Just saying. 

The scene wherein she touches Nell's corpse, her facial expression was top notch!  Don't miss the monologue scene with Shirley after they saw Nell's ghost popped out from the backseat of the car. i was gasping for air while she was into it, a scene so poignant and worth re-watching. Nell being the catalyst for Shirley and Theo to fix their relationship is purely heart warming.  

(DEPRESSION) Luke. The junkie, shifted his attention to addiction as he saw it as a means of escaping from 'it' (the haunting). Luke and Nell has this, "Twin Thing"  going on & both of them had the most traumatized scenes in the entire series. 

The encounter with Mr. Hill. Poor young Luke, he was literally shaking under the bed while the ghost of Mr. Hill was looking for him. Let's not forget he was stuck in the dumbwaiter while at the basement and got attacked by another ghost - I believe it has some connection to the bootlegging history.

Luke has the saddest story compared to the 4, imo. His siblings never showed enough support that he can surpass his addiction, the scene wherein he showed up at Nell's wedding was heartbreaking - as well as being conned by whom he thought he was helping (Joey, a fellow addict). 
Remember what Steve told him before? The people whom we thought helps us can also eventually burn us out.  

(ACCEPTANCE) Nell, the youngest & most fragile of them all. She's been ignored most of her life, she wasn't even given the chance to be heard yet she's so full of love that she saved her siblings from all the peril that the house brings forth to their family. Her love is so pure and when she died, it's extremely painful to watch. 

I was here, screaming all the time but none of you heard me. ~ Nell Crain, The Haunting of Hill House

watch out for:

I shall say it again, Nell's monologue scene inside the Red Room. If there's one line to sum up this whole show, it was that confetti - Actress Victoria Pedretti, slay much girl!

the ghosts or what i shall call tainted souls
Am I the only one who predicted that Nell was the Bent Neck Lady from Episode 1?
Marching along episode by episode, more and more "what ifs" filled my mind.

The oddness of every scene left unexplained had me craving for more. My eyes tired but my head willingly moved on. At first I thought I was seeing things, but I was correct. After a re-watch, the easter eggs were real. 

There's tons of ghosts in every scene. The tainted souls that the house cradles. The Crains (Olivia, Nell..) included. 

the red room.
Well, this show has effectively seemed to infest my mind with questions too - sort of like alcohol, but no where near as enjoyable. The chilling setting, worked in tandem with each member of the Crain family. The Red Room has gotta be one of the best twists ever! It served as a solace for the characters- it also paved the way for their deaths. 

As Nell used to say, they have all been there. 
And the Red Room was not the one who saved them - it was NELL after all.
It was her passing away that made her family whole once again.
It has her innocence and love that made them set aside and resolve their conflicts.
True as it may seem, we all have that Nell within our own families right?
The one we always seems to turn a blind eye to?

the monologues.
Nell's scene and monologue got me, 100%. 
I didn't just care with the characters of this show, I was totally invested. 
It has the most impactful lines - it keeps me afloat for whatever is left.
The psychologically adept metaphors this show has to offer is something we don't get to watch and hear everyday. 

A runner up would be Theo's - the time she was talking to Shirley after Nell's ghost showed up inside the car. That's one hell of a jump scare! And oh, I lost count of Olivia's too. Carla Gugino's acting is remarkable, but still the DAD, OMG. I haven't recuperated from Nell and there was the young Hugh bidding adieu to his son, Steve. 

When you manage to pull out terror and human emotion from your audience, that is simply what you call a masterpiece. Mike Flanagan, where have you been all my life.

Flanagan's adaptation takes me places which aren't really macabre neither frightening, instead I find myself adrift as the characters lead me on. 

So not quite sure if, is it a dream? or is this real? 
His ability to deliver this 'atmosphere' of thrill and terror is beyond words. 
It's brilliant,  incomparable to the point that it has left me thinking - I'm actually watching this to fill in the gaps. Am I one of those siblings? Did I come from a fractured family like the Crains? 

don't forget the dudley's.

The moment when Mr. Dudley carried a dying Clarah, OMG my heart. The Haunting of Hill House, how dare you toy with my feelings? Bittersweet, devastating endings.

Abigail Dudley is a revelation. Flanagan really has a lot of tricks under his sleeves. Another twist that blew my mind; her death is sweet yet sadist. Imagine being poisoned, choked to death,  being a victim from all these manifestations? Both of their kids were also taken by the house. It's as if they weren't given any chance to be happy - I dunno about you but souls being on a limbo inside Hill House? How in the world can that steer families to happiness? 

The Haunting of Hill House, short on bloods and jump scares but it muse on our own fears, guilt and life uncertainties. 

Nowadays horror films/tv shows are becoming a total crap. Cheap jump scares, predictable story line yet they struggle with an ending. Flanagan sealed the show with the same mystery and psychological jitters.
Still after the entire show, I keep asking myself -

Is it a disturbance of the unknown or unleashing something deeper that even the mind conceal?

the questions thereafter.

I'm sorry, I'm still left with questions.
There's no way Flanagan can fit all those answers into a 10-hour eps I suppose.

who is the fulcrum of this series
It's hands down Nell Crain-Vance. We saw how her character grew in each episode, the exposure of the Bent Neck Lady zipping the mystery once and for all. 

After a re-watch, I changed my perspective.
It's actually Hugh Crain.
His reasoning of hiding the truth sounded like a cliche, but come to think of it...

If it weren't for that same reason, they might have faced more danger if not for the father's sacrifice.
As what they say, a parent will always be a parent.
Steve saw his father's dead body on the floor yet he didn't say anything to his siblings.
Same reason as his father gave him protect the family.
He hated it all his life yes?  But he also did it.
Because that's the right thing to do and with that he also came to a realization that he is capable of being a father himself. 

This is all yours now. 
The house .. and the promise.
I want you to know..
 you, your sisters, your brother, were the best part of my... my-
Never been prouder of anything. 

Take care of each other.
Be kind to each other. 
And nothing else.
Be kind.
I was so lucky to be your dad.
~ Hugh Crain, 

The Haunting of Hill House 

why the house won

Olivia's descent into madness is like an open book. Notice how she looked at Steve during the ending (after the dad said goodbye and joined her and Nell inside the Red Room).

It's not the RR neither Poppy Hill that made her demented. It's actually the thought of letting her children out in the outside world, where the real monsters live and feed on them. She was too afraid that her kids won't make it, that they'll be safer inside the house rather than be out there and be exposed to the real world - which, compared to the house was extremely much more maddening if you'd ask me.  

I wouldn't even consider HHH as a horror show, it's more of a psychological thriller;  a well thought-out plot, laced with substance is such a definite rarity. Major props to Flanagan.  I think you've just set a precursor of high standards of the horror/thriller shows to be filmed thereafter.

So what makes The Haunting of Hill House such a big hit? Its familiarity, its warmth as a tightly woven story of an ordinary family. It's beautifully crafted and the way it brought its audience to different facets of reality, uncovering the frailties of every human life there is. 

3 favorite scenes
  • Freeze Luke & Nell. When Hugh carried Luke and somehow 'stole' him from Olivia's arms while they were lying on the couch and wants to bring Luke to bed.  Liv even mentioned how she wished that she could freeze them in time so they can remain as her babies forever. A major premonitory it was.
  • The Funeral Visitation. Hugh saw his children as kids then with the camera rotating, they appeared to be adults. The camera works were so amazing, the continuity is there, it was flawlessly executed. It also happened to be the first reunion of the family - there was too much tension going on for this family, it was too hot to handle and when Nell's coffin collapsed? My heart broke into pieces. 
  • The rehab fee of $6,000. I was like,  holy fark?! You better get well soon Luke. 


Thanks for looking!
The Haunting of Hill House Review Netflix 2018

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