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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘The Haunting of Hill House’ puts new spin on source material

Photo by Creative Commons

Life & Arts reporter Jane Turchi says “The Haunting of Hill House” is able to improve character development with extended screen time.

In time for the Halloween season, Netflix has created a new adaptation of a gothic horror classic.

Loosely based on the book of the same name written in 1959 by horror and mystery author Shirley Jackson, “The Haunting of Hill House” series was released on Oct. 12. The book has been successfully adapted to the screen before, spawning the 1963 film “The Haunting” and its 1999 remake. This series goes beyond the classic horror film by taking advantage of the extra character and story development made possible by the lengthened 10 episode format.

The series was acknowledged by horror author Stephen King as “close to a work of genius” on Twitter. Variety reviewer  Daniel D’Addario also called the series “an effective scare-fest that is at its best when the tale does more than jolt the viewer.”

The series is partly inspired  by the “The Haunting,” and while the storylines are very different, the series makes  several clever references to the film.

Throughout the series, viewers find ghosts lurking in unexpected corners and shadows. Audiences continue to find more mysterious figures upon rewatching the series.

All 10 episodes were created by American filmmaker Mike Flanagan, the series’ director, writer, editor and executive producer.

The series follows the five children of the Crain family: Steven, Shirley, Theodora (Theo), Luke, Eleanor (Nell) and their parents Olivia and Hugh. The series’ main storyline occurs in the present, but the plot is developed through flashbacks to their childhood when the family temporarily moved into Hill House, a large old mansion, in the summer of 1992.

Ambitious house renovators, the Crains have purchased Hill House as their next project. As work continues on the home, the parents discover a complicated floor plan and a room with a red door that cannot be opened.

After the tragic death of their sister Nell, the family must rally together to uncover the truth of the past that their father never told them and the ghosts that may continue to haunt them.

“The Haunting of Hill House’s” cast is nothing short of ideal. The suspension of disbelief is never interrupted by the casting since  the actors who play siblings look related and their performances feel like that of a real family. 

Michiel Huisman, known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Orphan Black and Age of Adeline, leads the cast as Steven Crain, the eldest child of the family.  Now an acclaimed author of horror novels, Steven remains skeptical about the supernatural despite the effect it’s had on his family. His performance relates with the audience’s doubts about the reality of the haunting. 

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Victoria Pedretti play Luke and Nell Crain, the family’s young twins most greatly affected by the events at Hill House. Both their performances as young adults struggling with the ghosts from their childhood are compelling as the series tackles the issues of drug abuse and suicide plaguing their lives.

Kate Siegel plays Theo, the middle child, who works as a children’s psychologist in the present day. Siegel is known for other well-received thrillers such as Oculus and Hush. She also co-wrote Ouija: Origin of Evil. 

In multiple ways, the show represents cinematography at its finest. The series reaches its height in episode six, a 56-minute episode shot in only three lengthy scenes. This style of filming presents the viewer with dynamic camera work and a raw, real performance from the cast that will put any viewer on edge.

While a second season remains unconfirmed, the 10th episode ended with the potential for a return. Finally revealing the mystery of Hill House and the red room within, Flanagan has set up the show for a possible continuation.


Jane Turchi is an international studies junior and Life & Arts reporter for The Battalion.

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