The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix’s very loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel.
What it is: The Crain family spent a summer in the Hill House as children. As adults, their grief and trauma comes back to haunt them. Also, some ghosts do.
What I’ve seen: Six of ten episodes
Is it good? Yes, so far.
Quick thoughts: It’s October, the leaves are turning, I’ve had my requisite pumpkin spice latte, and I’m ready to get spooked. I threw on The Haunting of Hill House on a whim, and oh boy, did it spook me. What really got me is how the family drama of the Crain’s manages to be just as compelling, if not more so, than the ghosts.
The show is overt about the fact that ghosts are real and they’re here to fuck up the Crain family’s shit. But another spectre is looming over them: their grief over what happened in Hill House. The show flashes back and forth between past and present, contrasting the closeness of the family in the past and their dysfunction in the present. They’ve all dealt with their trauma in different ways. On the more functional side, there are characters like Shirley Crain, who was motivated to become a mortician based on her childhood experiences; now, she helps other families in need. On the other hand, we have Luke Crain, who has struggled with addiction and has been in and out of rehab for a decade. Even the characters who act like they have it together can’t deny that the summer in Hill House changed their fundamental selves. And as the show goes on, it becomes more and more clear that although some of them can keep up good appearances, none of the Crains have it all together.
The series has a good amount of twists and turns, including one so well executed I had to stay up to watch another episode after I saw it. I’m hoping it comes together in the end, though the more the show gets into the mechanics of how the haunting works, the less interested I am. What makes the show so compelling, and so scary, is less that ghosts are real, and more that even if they weren’t, this family’s past would still be haunting them.