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Review: ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ leaves viewers spooked

I have never finished, let alone start, any sort of series. However, when I heard good things about “The Haunting of Hill House,” a new ten-part series on Netflix, I knew I was going to step out of my comfort zone.

It paid off, too. I have never watched that much continuous television in my life. In 24 hours, I had spent 10 devoted to “The Haunting of Hill House.” It was enthralling.

Based on the 1959 horror novel of the same name, “The Haunting of Hill House” follows a single family and their lifelong battle with the spirits of a Gothic home which they lived in as children. After a string of mysterious and terrifying events, the family is forced to vacate the house, but despite this, the memories of their time in the house haunts them throughout their lives.

The story can be difficult to follow at times as it flashes back and forth between present day and when the characters were children at the house. At first it can be disorienting, but it eventually becomes a complimentary feature of the story, weaving both ends together instead of giving too much away at a time. It seems that the family is plagued by mystery and mistrust unable to accept the possible reality of what happened in their childhood. This emotion is mirrored by the audience who are never given any concrete answers to what happened in the house.

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the house is very much haunted (with the show’s many subtly hidden ghosts driving the point home), but there is still doubt as to whether other factors were at play.

The show’s “perception equals reality” motif could either play a large role in the plaguing of the family or the answer could simply lie in the fact that there is such a thing as ghosts, and they live in Hill House.

The scares are for the most part original and rely more on tension and atmosphere than jump scares. The few jump scares there are come at unexpected times. One scene in particular stands out.

Director Mike Flanagan leaves it up to the viewer. As mentioned before, the internet has already gone to work trying to find all the ghosts and figures hidden in the periphery of scenes: behind Hellenic statues or stained-glass doors.

Speaking of set design, Flanagan couldn’t have chosen a better house for the horrors to take place. Hill House is a massive labyrinth, Gothic mansion with hidden rooms and odd angles surrounded by acres of woods. The perfect place for a haunting.

This show had an excellent casting and an excellent set. The story is fantastic but could use more clarity at times although that could just as easily be artistic direction. Scary? Ask my two nights of nightmares which involved blue hags chasing me down the Hill House staircase.

Overall score: 9/10

Written by Patrick Barry, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Pursue News.

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