Netflix’s new series “The Haunting of Hill House” released on Oct. 12, 2018 as a full series. The show was comprised of ten one-hour long episodes, each focusing around one of the main characters until it came to a head in the finale.
The show focuses on the Crain family, composed of Olivia and Hugh, the parents, and Theodora, Shirley, Steven, Luke and Nell, the children. The series is loosely based off of the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson.
In the novel, she refers to the house as a body, and this same metaphor is prevalent throughout the entirety of the show.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE BELOW
The Crain family moves into a new house, named Hill House, over the summer months while Olivia and Hugh – who are home renovators – work on getting the property ready for resale. The children are varying ages, the oldest roughly thirteen, while the youngest – Nell and Luke, the twins – are only six or seven.
At first, they’re excited to be staying at the house. It’s big, with lots of rooms and space to explore. However, over the course of their stay, things begin to happen in the house.
First, Nelly begins to see a ghost she refers to as “the Bent Necked Lady.” Then, Luke begins experiencing nightmares of a tall man who floats above the ground and moves by a cane.
Over the course of each episode, it moves from flashbacks to the house, each labeled appropriately leading up to the “final night.” In the modern day, viewers get to see how the events at Hill House left the children of the Crain family scarred, and in turn caused issues later on in life.
Steve is now a writer of ghost stories, having investigated several haunted well known places such as The Queen Mary ship, and has written about his time in the Hill House as well. Shirley is a mortician and funeral home director, running her business out of her home.
Theodora is a child psychologist who wears gloves because of an issue with touch, which we later learn is because she inherited her mother’s ability to sense things about people through touching them. Nell had gotten married, watched her husband die of an aneurysm and has started to once again see “the Bent Necked Lady.”
Luke is a drug addict who has been to recovery three times with no success and their father, Hugh is almost non-existent in their lives.
The trigger point that sets off the story for the Crain family is the death of Nell, after she returns to the Hill House and apparently commits suicide. The story takes off from there, and the ghosts from the past come back to visit.
“The Haunting of Hill House” is a slow burn, but what it lacks in pace, it makes up for in story and thrills. According to an article on Buzzfeed.com, some people found the scary parts of the episodes so intense that they passed out.
The ending of “The Haunting of Hill House” finally sheds some light on what went on in the mysterious Hill House and what exactly happened the night that six of the Crain family members finally escaped.
Olivia Crain had become “possessed” in a sense by the house. She had begun to believe that it was her forever home and that leaving would only cause her and her family pain. Due to this, Olivia began to act strangely, often doing things that were out of character for her. She often times would wake up unaware of what had happened.
One such instance occurred when she woke up on top of Hugh, a screwdriver pressed to his neck as if she were about to stab him.
After Olivia’s condition deteriorated past the point of saving, Hugh realized he had to get the kids out of there. The final straw occurred when Olivia staged a tea party for Nell, Luke and Luke’s friend Abigail, who was the daughter of the caretakers. She poisoned the tea and served it to the children, but only Abigail drank it.
When she fell on the floor, dying from the poison, the children realized there was something wrong with the tea. Hugh came in just in time to stop Nell and Luke from drinking it and rescued them from the house along with the other children.
It is revealed that Olivia killed herself and is now the one in control of the house as a spirit. She wants her children to come back to her, still believing the house’s lies that her husband took them away to harm them by exposing them to the world.
Nell is now part of the house as well but is aware enough to save her siblings and free them from the house’s and Olivia’s grasp. The show plays with the idea of life being non-linear in that things from the future may be in our past just as our past is in our future.
Overall, the slow burn of the show mixed with the psychological and physical scares makes for one of the best shows this season, and certainly a win for Netflix.
“The Haunting of Hill House” is a representation of the type of show Netflix strives for – enthralling, captivating, yet just short enough to leave you feeling satisfied without a long drag.
The Haunting of Hill House is now streaming on Netflix.