I’m going to giving my brief spoiler free reactions first and when you see me shouting at you with stars above the sentence then I have free will to spoil everything…including the movie Braveheart, *Spoiler alert* Mel Gibson isn’t actually Scottish. So a vaugeish look to a spoiler filled discussion after. Anyway…
I’ve always been a lover of horror but in recent years I feel like there has been a lack of genuinely good horror media. I feel like the general census amongst people is that if it makes you jump then that’s scary and in turn can be classed as horror. Wrong. Horror doesn’t need to be visual or audible, it just needs to plant the seed of dread in to your mind and let it manifest in to something truly unsettling. I believe The Haunting of Hill House in that sense is a modern horror masterpiece.
The story of The Haunting of Hill House follows the Craine family during two time periods of their lives, During the summer of 1992 when the family of seven move in to Hill house and 26 years later when an incident brings them all back together to confront what truly happened that ill fated summer. Essentially what we have with this show is a supernatural physiological horror/family drama? But it works, really well. Its great to see something so fresh in such an over saturated choice of schlocky haunted house media.
Each family member is given their episode to shine and we get to see their own perspectives of what happened to them in 1992 and how they are coping with that in the modern day. Episodes 5 and 6 ‘The Bent-Neck Lady’ and ‘Two Storms’ are stand outs for me and are up there with some of the best episodes of TV I have ever seen. Period. I am not joking with you right now. #Manneverjokes.
Before I go in to spoilers I will just give a brief summary then you can crack on with watching it or whatever you want to do. It’s up to you. I will not judge you if you decide to re-watch Rick and Morty for the 12th time. You do you.
So The Haunting of Hill House is a ghost story with scares, drama and at its core heart. A wonderfully acted piece of television which along with being one of the finest in its genre stands proudly as one of the best shows to stream right now. Anywhere. Do yourself a favour and go watch it. Now.
*From here there be spoilers arrrgh* Not pirates but I’m going to stick with it.
Is it safe? Cool.
The Bent Neck Lady
Holy shit. So during what is essentially Nelles’ episode we follow her story to find out why she ultimately killed herself and the answer is a very difficult one to accept. So during her time at Hill house ‘The Bent Neck Lady’ makes herself known to Nelle, hovering over her bed, watching her sleep you name it. Once Nelle has grown up she starts to appear again, and just as she is getting her life on track ‘The Bent Neck Lady’ just as swiftly says ‘Fuck the tracks we’re going off road’ and appears to kill her husband.
In an attempt to finally settle things with the house and their ghostly residents she goes to Hill House to squash the beef. But that doesn’t quite go to plan and Nelle ends up being cohersed in to hanging herself by the ghost of her mother. So what then happens is very disturbing. With a massive crack we see Nelles neck snap and her lifeless body left to dangle in a now vacant house. But as she is turning in to one of the ghostly residents the house decides to show her some moments of her life but as her current self and in plain view of herself in the past. So this ‘Bent Neck Lady’ is actually herself in the last few moments of her life haunting herself in her own death loop forever.
There is no way anybody saw this coming right? Imagine the thought of your biggest fear in life, something you think killed your partner being the last dying moments of your own life in physical form. appearing at the worst possible times. How fucking dark is that? It’s like the house was playing some sick game and was like ‘You know how time is irrelevant here, you know what would be funny. We use that somehow to haunt somebody and ruin their life. Wait it would be even funnier if we could get someone to haunt themselves, ghost man! Hold my beer!’. The fact the house was making her in to a ghost to make it seem as if the young Nelle was being haunted her whole life, when in fact it was just herself, just to get her to the house to end her life is so dark. No! Hill house you twisted bastard no! That being said it is an incredible twist that keeps on giving as the show goes on but damn Hill house, damn.
The Hidden Ghosts
One of the most unsettling parts of ‘Hill House’ is the abundance of spirits lurking in the background just out of sight. It constantly makes you rewind a few seconds back just to make sure you aren’t seeing things, which is how it would be if you thought you saw an apparition in real life, questioning if that candy cane monster from the kitchen drawer was there the whole time or if its just the blurriness of your eyes at 3 am as you eat shredded cheese out of the bag. The blonde haired lady from the image above freaked me out the most, as she clings to the wall just out of sight desperate to know whats going on in the basement of Hill House. I don’t how many apparitions there are exactly but I probably spotted roughly 1-2 an episode but I bet there a lot more than that. There’s probably one behind you now. RUN!
Game of Ghosts
Steve Crain is Daario Naharis from Game of Thrones… Took me like 4 episodes to figure out where I recognised him from…just thought you ought to know.
Episode 6 ‘Two Storms’ does the most aesthetically pleasing thing, in my opinion, by doing the whole long take thing as the camera follows the family members during the funeral of Nelle and a storm in the 90’s. It all seamlessly fits together to make it seem like your’e a fly on the wall observing this all happen in real time. The longest take lasted 17 minutes. 17 minutes for there to be no fuck ups and for the whole thing to run smoothly, that’s insane. According to director Mike Flanagan they had props moving constantly, 18 pages of dialogue in any given take, 100 people behind the scenes working on lighting, sound design you name it. It makes the whole episode massively engrossing watching this family struggle to come to terms with the ‘Suicide’ of their sister and daughter and how they deal with the reality of the situation they are now in. The performances are outstanding, the production is out of this world and the episode ends in the most gut wrenching way possible.
Right at the end of the last flashback Nelle was missing during the storm but suddenly appears, Luke, her twin brother, tells her something along the lines “Don’t ever do that again, I thought I had lost you forever” to which Nelle replies “I was here the whole time but nobody could see me, I was screaming and nobody could see me”. Cut back to the present day where the family have gone their separate ways after a massive argument involving basically everyone and the camera pans to Nelles body in her coffin with Nelle, sporting her new bent neck lady ghost form, standing right next to it where her family once were. With Ghost Nelle staring at her family as they walk off young Nelles voice is heard repeating “I was here the whole time but nobody could see me, I was screaming and nobody could see me”. Which is a heart wrenching line seeing how Nelle was essentially the person who would stop all of the fighting between the family and now is left to watch as her family splits apart from each other and there is absolutey nothing she can do about it from the other side.
If you’re interested in seeing how they did it I will kindly leave a link right here for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8gJ81M39Ig&feature=youtu.be
Wrapping this whole thing up
I could write forever about this amazing TV show but alas I do not have the time to do so and I’m sure as a reader you would probably be like ‘Fuck that I got things to do and other stuff to watch, you heard about that Birdbox thing? What a… what a something’ but I digress. The Haunting of Hill House is something more in the vein of ‘The Devils Backbone’ where rather than out right scaring you there is more of a focus on the beautifully written characters and the idea of a ghost story in its beating heart. A must watch for any horror fan or fan of great character driven drama.