By Dave B.
The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) tells the story of the Crane family and their terrifying and complex relationship with a house that they lived in one summer. Years later, the survivors of Hill House have each tried to cope, in their own ways, with what they experienced there. The death of one of the now adult Crane children brings the family together and leads to an overdue confrontation with the evil and madness that the family has been hiding from.
I’ll admit that, at first, I had some misgivings about this show. I expected to see something that would fit into my preconceived notion of what horror is and for the first few episodes, The Haunting of Hill House seemed to fit that mold. The first inkling that I had that The Haunting of Hill House would be different than I expected was due to the show's narrative structure: most of the episodes focus on a specific family member, showing their lives today as well as their perspective of what they experienced at years ago at the house. As more of the story behind Hill House and the Crane family is revealed, the more I realized that this show was unlike any horror I had ever seen. Yes, it gets all of the pure horror aspects right. It builds and maintains tension throughout 10 episodes, which is quite a remarkable feat. It also supplies plenty of scares. I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a few times in this series that I was startled badly enough to spill my beer. If this show were “simply” a more than solid addition to the world of horror and fright, it would deserve praise. But its is so much more than that.
The Haunting of Hill House is the most unique entry into the horror genre that I’ve ever seen. It’s more human and heart-wrenching and terrifying and beautiful than I can adequately describe. It completely changes the limited definition of what I thought a horror movie/show can be. The Crane family’s inability to honestly come to terms with their experiences at Hill House has led them to estrangement from each other, as well as psychological and substance abuse issues; What the show excels at is at paralleling the family’s fight with their personal demons, with their battles against the ongoing malign influence of Hill House. Having been made in a television format (instead of as a movie) allows viewers to deeply connect with members of the Crane family, which turbocharges both the dramatic and horror tension that pervades this series. It’s quite well done and to say that I’m impressed with the final product would be an understatement.
I came up with a short list of reasons not to give The Haunting of Hill House a perfect 10. But I threw the list away because something that can make me feel EVERYTHING as powerfully as this show did deserves the highest rating that I can give it, regardless of any minor imperfections. I’m not going to say that The Haunting of Hill House is the greatest horror-based television show ever made, because I haven’t seen them all. But, with no reservations, I’m saying that it’s the best one that I’ve ever seen. I recommend it as highly as I possibly can.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.