12 Days of Christmas 2018, Thought Pieces

The Haunting of Hill House & Me

In keeping with our spooky theme, I wanted to talk about a show that I loved dearly this past year – and I think a lot of other people did too. Yup, as you can tell from the title, I mean the Haunting of Hill House. Now, I know I’m not the first person to talk about this show. It got rave reviews when it came out and everyone plus their dog was talking about it. And so, for the first time ever, I thought ‘why not watch a horror show for the 10 days leading up to Halloween?’. Well let me tell you that bombed quickly – I ended up speed-running the last 6 episodes on a Saturday and boy oh boy, am I glad I did so.

Let me start off by saying that content warning: suicide is everywhere in this show, and drinking and drugs are also present. The show is telling two stories concurrently, with a small subplot within them. First is the present day Crain family, dysfunctional and fractured, and the second is the Crain family in the past when they first moved into Hill House. Within this past story line is the story of the house. I love this idea, and it’s in some ways very similar to my previous review, The Clockmaker’s Daughter. The houses that we inhabit have an impact on us is a central theme in both this show and the book, and it’s a super cool one to explore in both mediums.

Additionally, I don’t really think that THOHH was exceptionally scary. Maybe I just got used to it, or didn’t notice it as I am a scaredy-cat who enjoys horror, but I really only found the first 5 episodes to be very scary, and those scares were due to jump scares or creatures or the like. Overall the last 5 episodes were kind of tame in the scare department, but still scary.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of character drive story lines. And THOHH is basically all character driven. The episodes are told from the POV’s of the different Crain siblings – Steve, Shirley, Theo, Nell and Luke. Each episode allows for major insight into the characters, and I love that we get to know each character better through their own stories. After the first 5 episodes the POVs get more disjointed, as the siblings are together, but we now know their motivations and can guess at why the characters are reacting they way they are. It’s a great device and I really thought that they made POV work well for them.

Another point – the camera work was incredible. Their long shots were outstanding, and I almost didn’t even notice how wrapped up in them I was until it ended and I was like ‘what just happened!’. So masterfully done, and I really wonder how they managed to make it so seamless for 17 minutes.

I think that the show itself was an incredible commentary on trauma and relationships. The Crain kids all coped with the trauma of living in Hill House differently, and seeing their mechanisms for coping with it is really interesting. Luke deals with it through addictions, Steve through forced ignorance, Shirley through control and Theo through isolation. And seeing them overcome these barriers and how they are stronger for it is really touching.

The ending of the show was also super surprising. I was not expecting to be as touched as I was – I literally cried tears that weren’t from terror. The show very obviously wanted to comment on relationships, but what I found the most interesting was how even though the ghosts were at times malicious, it somehow managed to show me that Hill House wasn’t all bad all the time. And I think that that’s a sign of a true masterful horror – the big bad was evil, but it was nuanced and maybe wasn’t 100% evil.

Overall, I loved this series, and I really hope that they make another season, even if it doesn’t focus on the Crains. I want to see like the same thing but with another family. Basically just the same directing/producing team but fresh story lines for me to obsess over!

Thats all for now ducks! Got any good horror suggestions for me?
Talk to ya tomorrow!
~ Mon

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