The Haunting of Hill House (Season 1) is a ten-episode American horror / supernatural TV series created by Mike Flanagan. Somehow based on the 1959 novel with the same title by Shirley Jackson which premiered on Neflix on the 12th of October 2018.
When this first came to Netflix, we started watching episode one but then we had to stop because we’ve got an early morning. The next day, we couldn’t wait til late night to finally start the second episode. My husband and I agreed, this is one hell of a Netflix series! We decided not to binge watch because we’re afraid to run out of episodes. I began messaging my sisters about the series being that I am always the first one to discover life’s goodness and to my surprise, both of them have finished the series and can’t wait til I do so we can apparently discuss our theories and wishes for the story.
My favorite character is Shirley. Funny because my sister would tease me that I am a textbook Shirley. I liked her but when I am being likened to her, I am not so sure if it was a good thing.
Shirley Crain Harris is the eldest daughter of the family. She owns a mortuary with her husband Kevin and has a son and daughter. She is responsible and too composed.
The eldest among siblings is Steven Crain. As a grown man he’s an author, famous for writing about his family’s experience at Hill House. He is writing it the way others have remembered the story. He didn’t know what was real based on his own recollection because when they escaped the Hill House, his dad made him close his eyes. He was sheltered as a kid. His dad has protected him from the horror of the house. He is somewhat aware about what’s happened to their family and has attributed the occurrences to mental disease due to his cynicism and non-belief. Although his character has been well built up, I hated Steven.
The middle child of the five is Theodora “Theo” Crain. She is a child psychologist who is an empath like her mother (although I didn’t hear them mention the term empath within the series); they have rather referred to her gift as being “sensitive.” She wears gloves to prevent touching another person and experiencing psychic knowledge about them. It was her mom that has given her the first pair of gloves to use. It will later be revealed that she would ditch the gloves, perhaps fully claiming her gift?
And then there’s Luke Crain who is the older twin of Nell. He struggles with addiction as an adult to push out his memories of Hill House.
Of course, Nell Crain, the youngest among the Crains — she’s beautiful and thoughtful. She has been the one who would always gather the siblings all together. One of the main events in this series was Nell’s wedding. It will be later revealed that she married her sleep technician being that she’s got the worst sleep disorder. Nell suffered from sleep paralysis. However, some time in the series, her husband dies of an apparent aneurysm.
The freakiest among the characters is the mom, Olivia Crain. She is the one who designs houses. She, along with her daughter Nell, are among the most affected by the paranormal activity in the house.
The dad, Hugh Crain is the builder who flips houses. He is the most selfless character in the story. I loved how his sole purpose is to protect his children from the horrific experience and memories of the Hill House. It will later be revealed that he has an estranged relations with his children and this is not because of the non-affection on his part.
There are some recurring characters as well:
- Clara Dudley – She, along with her husband, Horace Dudley are the caretakers of the house and help the Crains in their efforts to revamp the mansion
- Kevin Harris is Shirley’s husband who becomes caught in the middle of a sibling war between Steven and Shirley who refuses to receive a cut from Steven’s book sales referring to it as blood money. Shirley will discover that her husband had been receiving money all along. The secret was being kept by Theo, Steven and Kevin
- Leigh Crain is Steven’s wife. I could not shake the fact that she is Penny from Grey’s Anatomy so I kind of disliked her too much. Her character seemed unnecessary for me, perhaps a bias?
- Trish Park has appeared several times in the series, she is Theo’s fling
- Ryan who is an apparition from Shirley’s memory. I was so confused whether he is a ghost but then they had this metaphor on ghosts to be our guilt and dreams etc…
- The Funeral Director
- Joey who is a recovering addict that Luke tries to help. Somehow a love interest but was quite unclear because her character was too small
- Arthur Vance, Nell’s husband (the one who died of aneurysm)
- Poppy Hill, one of the ghosts inhabiting Hill House, wife of William Hill and considered insane when alive. She is the one being referred to as the one who lies.
- William Hill, former owner of Hill House who went insane and bricked himself behind a wall; appears as Tall Man/Bowler Hat Man
- Abigail, daughter of Clara and Horace Dudley. You will get confused whether she’s a real person or one of the ghosts
- Aunt Janet, sister of Olivia Crain. She appeared to have been the one who raised the Crain kids
- The man who fixes the clock; who is a ghost which will later be revealed to Steven, him having thought that he was an actual person – one of the workers his dad commissioned to work inside the house
The story is kind of freaky in almost all aspects. It gives an effect similar to the Murder House of AHS. I mean the concept of those dying inside it gets trapped in the house. At first I thought it was just the Hills because I didn’t see any other ghosts but when Abigail died (in the same night that Olivia killed herself), the Dudleys made it quite clear that they didn’t want to harm the house being that there are things that do not solely belong to Hugh Crain therefore, they just requested that Hugh keeps mum about it and that he keeps the Dudleys as the caretakers so they can continue seeing their daughter Abigail.
Additionally, it was also shown that the present day Horace had to rush (while carrying his wife) to reach the house. Clara, the wife seemed to be dying because Horace had to carefully state that “they made it” which means, they made it to the house and that the wife can die inside the Hill House so they can be all together, the baby, Abigail and Clara. I can only assume that Horace would kill himself or if he isn’t that kind of person, he’d wait to die in the house as well.
There’s this infamous red room. The thing is, “no one can enter that room no matter how hard they all tried to open it.” BUT apparently, everyone has been inside that room. Reminds me of the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter, “If you have to ask you’ll never know. If you know you need only ask”
So yeah. Theo needed a dance studio – the red room. Steven needed a game room, there goes the red room. Shirley thinks it’s the family room. Olivia all along has been going there because that’s her reading room. It was also Nell’s playroom and of course, the tree house for Luke. It was carefully emphasized to Steven by his dad, “I did not build a tree house!” How freaky was that? The red room becomes anything you want it to be albeit for real, it was molding and was the actual source of the rotting. Seems like our dear old daddy has become an all-knowing dad through the years. Despite the verbal confirmation from Hugh Crain, Steven being Steven seemed to be fighting the desire to believe. Until they all went back to the house to find Luke. Only to see him inside the red room which will eventually allow Steven to enter, same goes for Theo and Shirley. They were all there trying to revive Luke who will survive overdose from rat poison (the longevity of that rat poison amazes me!) but they would essentially have short revelations, one of which was Shirley’s fling with that guy who always appears like a ghost on almost every creepy scene that only Shirley’s in. This memory will be elaborately narrated by Ryan, the guy from her memory. While inside the red room, Nell would have a monologue about it. About how their mom told them that every part of the house corresponds to a body part and that how the red room is the stomach of the house.
After saving Luke, the siblings had to take him to the hospital but their father had to ask Steven to stay. He was asked to stay for him to witness the phantom reenactment of the night his mom died. I admired how Hugh still tried to protect the present day Steve treating him like he was still a child. I felt a little pinch when Hugh asked him not to look and to just look at him (dad) instead because The Tall Man was actually on his face. He did not want for Steven to see that. Steven had to relive how it happened and seeing how his mother killed herself gave him the realization. It all dawned to him, everything that he’s been trying to repress. It was also revealed that Hugh has died earlier on. He’s finally gotten inside the red room with Olivia and Nell.
The story seemed complete. For me, it’s finished. I don’t see how a second season is possible, perhaps with a different family then? Perhaps the Hills? Who knows. But if it’ll be as good as how season 1 is done, why the hell not, right?!
It was a happy ending, not the one that we’ve been thinking. Although we’re kind of fed up of these insanely sad endings that’s become a trend in this decade. I appreciate how they’ve given comfort to the viewers that they’d somehow get to live a normal life.
Plus points: The scoring was perfect. I won’t ever forget Theo and Shirley’s car scene. That did it for me aside from several other hysterical scenes.
I give this 5 stars without hesitating!
Image: RoR gif was from HERE and the poster was from Google Images, one of Netflix’s promo materials