The Haunting of Hill House

Discuss TV shows old and new.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

The Haunting of Hill House

#1 Post by Persona » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:16 am

3 episodes in and I am really loving Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House.

it's very loosely inspired by the book so don't go in expecting an actual adaptation and I think most would come away impressed. has a bit of a This Is Us gimmick to it but Flanagan totally elevates that by the constant, diligent interweaving of thematic connection through the visuals, brilliantly edited together.

the characters start off a bit dull but things are coming together on that front, too. it's a very white cast because it centers on a large white family and while the show is proactive about putting diversity around them I do kind of wish even more was done on that front. not sure what that could have been, though. make one of the kids adopted (would have been even more This is Us, though)? make the parents a bi-racial couple? or have them be a non-white family. I dunno... something.

that nit-pick aside, it's getting more and more engrossing as it develops and Flanagan's style is pretty unassailable here, restrained but also strikingly effective--it's an incredibly impressive modernizing of old-school, classicist horror.

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Netflix Originals

#2 Post by Finch » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:36 pm

I finished Haunting of Hill House today and, for me anyway, it's Mike Flanagan's masterpiece. It kept me spellbound and affected me strongly, at times, to the point of tears. It was a show about the fear of being alone and the fear of loss, and it was about the healing power of reaching out and coming together. It was life-affirming.

This run of ten episodes is billed as a first season but I'm not convinced there needs to be another, as with AMC's The Terror which is getting a second though to be fair, in a different setting and with different characters altogether. I feel the story of Hill House has been told, and I don't think Hill House allows for this much flexibility. I'm not sure another season could add more to what has been told and, more to the point, what has been told so strongly in this run. This thing is real feeling and real craft and it is all the more powerful for it. Episode 6 in particular is a masterclass in storytelling, the 2018 equivalent of what Twin Peaks achieved with Parts 8 and 18 last year.

I have seen very few feature films this year, not least because I was wrapped up in making my own and because I'm going to remain broke for a good while still, but I'd like to think there is at least one or two film masterpieces and a handful of very good ones still to discover. If nothing else, I got The Haunting of Hill House. I hope Netflix will allow Flanagan and Paramount a Blu-Ray release. It is the best horror narrative of 2018 and it may yet be the best overall.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Netflix Originals

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:57 pm

Well, you sold me.

User avatar
Finch
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#4 Post by Finch » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:59 am

I hope you get as much out of it as I did. I certainly think there isn't going to be anything better than Hill House in this genre this year, and I haven't liked Flanagan's films (still to see Gerald's Game, to be fair) quite as much as some critics seem to have, but this show has made me a believer.

User avatar
JamesF
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:36 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#5 Post by JamesF » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:33 am

Unfortunately, the show kind of shits the bed in the last half hour, veering off into treacly sentimentality that betrays much of what came before. Don’t let that stop you from watching the whole series though, which I agree is compelling and very impressive (and definitely a limited series). Finch is absolutely right about episode 6, which is Flanagan’s finest accomplishment on a technical level (though I’m not sure I’d compare it to episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return). I really enjoyed Hush and Gerald’s Game, and found much to admire inbetween the more conventional scares in his other films. That said, the ending had me wondering if his upcoming Doctor Sleep adaptation would really be a stealth sequel to Mick Garris’ The Shining miniseries rather than Kubrick - including the casting of Garris regulars Henry Thomas and Annabeth Gish! (Thomas is very chilling in Gerald’s Game, cast against type.)

ianungstad
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:20 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#6 Post by ianungstad » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:55 am

Gerald's Game was fantastic. It's a shame it got dumped on Netflix last year with little promotion. It was much better than It.

User avatar
warren oates
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#7 Post by warren oates » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:58 am

I think it's a little unfair to mention a serious up and coming horror auteur like Flanagan in the same breath with a fading hack like Mick Garris. It is true that sometimes Flanagan's overreach in this series -- especially in the ending -- dulls and literalizes what would have been more powerfully left unsaid or unresolved. But Finch's lavish praise is kind of warranted. This is an ambitious project, and even if it didn't succeed fully in all the ways I'd hoped, it was still far more interesting to experience than it might have been in other hands. I wouldn't call it a masterpiece. But it held my attention for most of its runtime and it scared me and moved me and made me think. And it did all this with an impressively eclectic toolbox -- from shopworn haunted house makeup and jump scares to J-horror tropes, Stephen King crosscutting, Bergmanesque psychodrama and Tarkovskian dreamtime. I'm a fan of Gerald's Game and Oculus and The Haunting of Hill House feels like an extension of what was best about those works, the blurring of the boundaries between past and present, reality and dream, the horror of dysfunction at the heart of every family. I admire this and recommend it and I'm excited to see what he'll do with Doctor Sleep.

User avatar
JamesF
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:36 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#8 Post by JamesF » Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:33 am

For what it’s worth, I fully agree with pretty much everything you’re saying, and didn’t necessarily mean the Garris comparison as a diss.

Orlac
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:29 am

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#9 Post by Orlac » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:15 pm

I never really got how Garris appeared more or less out of nowhere - his lack of personality presumbly appealed to King as representing someone who would do what he was told.

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#10 Post by jazzo » Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:28 pm

From what I understand, he was just an early enough fanboy (OG Fanboy) before that shit exploded across the internet, who managed to parlay interviewing some of his heroes on a cable access show, into industry connections, into a directing career, simply because he was likable enough and cheap enough to hire for the shit he was hired for. But if he doesn't have one of the absolute greatest absences of talent of in the history of filmmaking, he's at least in the running.

Also, I like Stephen King (at least some of his work), but let's face it - he's not always the best judge of creative abilities. He has his hackier side, too.

User avatar
Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#11 Post by Persona » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:57 am

Finished this last night.

Man, this just destroys most television.

I think it helps that this season is very tightly conceived. It is constructed very much as ONE story, but uses the episodes to its favor in showing us different perspectives and framings of that one story, and how all those facets interlock and complete each other.

Does the show peak around episodes 5 and 6? I mean, yes. In some ways those episodes are kind of the visceral climax and what happens after is a protracted denouement for theme and backstory and moving our characters towards resolution. But let's be real--that mid-season peak is an insanely high peak. The following episodes are still excellent in how they are written, performed, and crafted, and how they continue to weave out the threads of the story in a way that completes the tapestry and gives you the whole picture (while still leaving patches of that story ambiguous enough to really invite further thought/reflection/interpretation). The unusualness of this show's structure is one of the things I really appreciated about it, perhaps because I personally thought it creative and interesting yet still effective.

Thematically and dramatically, this just wrecked me. Maybe having kids is part of that and maybe that's why the episodes continue to work so well for me all the way through, because it sort of leans into this idea of what is our responsibility as parents and how the very act of having children can be sort of a conscious decision to choose to hope and to love even in a world full of darkness (reminded me a bit of Arrival at moments towards the end). If the first half of the season is about using the genre of horror to literalize cycles of trauma and pain and the darkness we inherit, the back half is about the intense struggle of relationship and love to supercede that horror.

The Red Room reveal is understated and terrible and beautiful. I totally get why someone would want more from it but unlike a JJ Abrams mystery box I thought what the series did here was totally earned and worked because it had been built into the fabric of the series right from Episode 1, both in the storytelling and in the ideas that the show was expressing. The quick sequence of shots that reveal some of the nature of the Room took my breath away for their sort of simple, horrible grace. But I also loved how the show didn't try to totally explain what the Red Room was or how it functioned. It gave me enough to satisfy some of the things that the show had set up at the same time it still leaves you with a lot of wonder.

Obviously this show is far from perfect but it's about as tightly conceived and powerfully written, about as emotionally harrowing and engaging (especially anything having to do with Nell, beginning to end), about as technically impressive and gorgeously executed a season of television as I have witnessed. An incredible amount of thought and ability was put into this show, into each episode, each shot (and how each one of those contributes back to the whole)--and the pay-off from that alone dwarfs the seat-of-our-pants standards of so many other shows, even in this "peak TV" era. And I actually loved that at the end this was more a family drama that just happened to used imagery and metaphors from a horror construct. To me, it was a long-form elevation of its influences into something I don't think I've ever seen on TV before.

User avatar
thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#12 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Mon Oct 22, 2018 3:18 am

Glad to hear the positive comments here. This will be the next thing I watch!

User avatar
Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#13 Post by Persona » Tue Oct 23, 2018 12:02 pm

JamesF wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:33 am
Unfortunately, the show kind of shits the bed in the last half hour, veering off into treacly sentimentality that betrays much of what came before. Don’t let that stop you from watching the whole series though, which I agree is compelling and very impressive (and definitely a limited series). Finch is absolutely right about episode 6, which is Flanagan’s finest accomplishment on a technical level (though I’m not sure I’d compare it to episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return). I really enjoyed Hush and Gerald’s Game, and found much to admire inbetween the more conventional scares in his other films. That said, the ending had me wondering if his upcoming Doctor Sleep adaptation would really be a stealth sequel to Mick Garris’ The Shining miniseries rather than Kubrick - including the casting of Garris regulars Henry Thomas and Annabeth Gish! (Thomas is very chilling in Gerald’s Game, cast against type.)
I understand reservations/issues with the ending but for me it feels like a natural and effective conclusion, written into the very story and thematic fabric of the series from the first episode and throughout. Does the show end on more of a grace note than a tragic one? Yes, but I found there also to be a sort of powerful interplay and charged ambivalence happening, even as it chooses to focus on some sort of hope. It kind of goes outside the more common horror convention for an ending (protagonist(s) survive or everyone dies) and arrives at something I found to be both tonally and conceptually complex, the sentiment and imagery of which will linger with me for quite some time...
SpoilerShow
In her final monologue Nell even says the house is digesting her. That she's like an animal swallowed whole and the house is now just feeling her tiny movements. But she also says that she is scattered into so many pieces, falling on the lives of her loved ones like new snow. She offers her siblings forgiveness, saying it is like a warm tear ("but the rest is confetti"). Nell is dead, but a strong echo of her is now trapped in Hill House, as with the other ghosts. But there are also the Bent-Neck Lady manifestations of her that go beyond the house, and there are the angelic manifestations of her that do, too. Some of that is just in the minds of people. Maybe it is entirely, like Hugh's mental construct of his wife, as he remembered her before her final days. "A ghost is a wish," and the show blurs the lines between the reality and unreality of these images just as Steven does at the beginning of the show, but also finds new meaning and strength from its ideas at the end, like Steven does. The echo of Olivia that lives in Hill House is still disturbed, still under the sway of the insanity of Poppy Hill. Until Olivia's love for Hugh has her stand up to Poppy, and then she and Hugh have their heartbreaking discussion that leads to Hugh's choice to sacrifice himself to be with Olivia and to save his remaining children. The echo of Olivia that represents Olivia as she was in Hill House, as she was as Hill House digested her, is both Olivia and not the Olivia that Hugh remembers. But he chooses to be with her, to love her in whatever state he can. His ghost is revealed, as it returns to the Red Room, to be the Hugh that lived in Hill House, and not the entirety of who he was. But all the same, his echo can join the echoes of his wife and his daughter. In the Red Room. In the digesting stomach of Hill House (and it's interesting how the show flips the switch on the states of decay of its ghosts). So these ghosts, these echoes, these remnant pieces of the dead do find some peace because they are together, at the same time that the House gets what it wants. The House uses both terror and manipulation. Sometimes it even offers gifts. To get what it wants. So it's a bittersweet ending for the Crain family, with some happiness in it, for sure, especially for the surviving siblings who have learned from the experience, come to terms with their lost loved ones, and renewed their love for each other. But the biggest happy ending is for Hill House itself. It is threatened towards the end and it defeats that threat. It gets what it wants. As so often the greater external forces that influence our lives do get what they want--at the same time that we can learn and grow from that experience. We can love each other despite the darkness that haunts us or surrounds us, despite whatever pain or confusion or worse that we might have inherited. We can be kind, even in the face of great tragedy or horror. Even in a place (or existence) of oppression or despair, we can walk together.
Yes, I ride hard for this show.

User avatar
Monterey Jack
Joined: Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:27 am

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#14 Post by Monterey Jack » Wed Oct 24, 2018 12:37 am

This was a remarkable piece of work, and Mike Flanagan is one of the brightest voices working in horror right now. Just a shame we'll probably never get a Blu-Ray release (thanks, Netflix...).

User avatar
barryconvex
billy..biff..scooter....tommy
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Haunting of Hill House

#15 Post by barryconvex » Wed Oct 24, 2018 1:02 am

jazzo wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:28 pm
But if he doesn't have one of the absolute greatest absences of talent of in the history of filmmaking, he's at least in the running.
Can i borrow this line?

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#16 Post by jazzo » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:56 pm

Oui.

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#17 Post by jazzo » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:04 pm

Oddly enough, while attempting to show my kids some fun horror stuff for the season, I popped my AMAZING STORIES season 1 discs, and who turned out to be the story editor on William Dear's "Mummy Daddy" episode (and I assume all of that season)? None other than fucking Mick Garris.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#18 Post by domino harvey » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:08 pm

Show them the episode where Christopher Lloyd's students cut his head off, that one was my favorite as a kid

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#19 Post by jazzo » Wed Oct 24, 2018 3:54 pm

That's next!

User avatar
JamesF
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 1:36 pm

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#20 Post by JamesF » Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:19 pm

Garris (who I don’t think quite deserves the scorn heaped upon him here) co-wrote that one too :lol:

User avatar
jazzo
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:02 am

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#21 Post by jazzo » Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:49 pm

JamesF wrote:
Fri Oct 26, 2018 2:19 pm
Garris (who I don’t think quite deserves the scorn heaped upon him here) co-wrote that one too :lol:
Foiled again. Gaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrriiiiissssss...

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#22 Post by swo17 » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:22 pm

Careful guys, you're dangerously close to legitimizing him even further with an official threadsplit

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#23 Post by domino harvey » Fri Oct 26, 2018 4:25 pm

DarkImbecile is about to regret his commitment to the filmmakers subforum

User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#24 Post by Murdoch » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:12 pm

I was less enamored by this than many here. While the series builds toward an emotional payoff, that payoff never really comes, instead resolving itself
SpoilerShow
in a conclusion that forces everything into the happiest possible end - Steve reconciles with his wife, Luke's clean, Theo isn't self-destructive, Shirley comes to terms with her self-righteousness and affair. Hell, even the dead people are beaming at the end. I generally don't like horror with a happy ending so I was always going to step into this with a critical eye, but the last fifteen minutes or so are just this montage of happiness that felt false. I kept expecting the rug to be pulled out from under me but instead it's roll credits
I did like the first half of the series, and found certain moments like the tall man with the cane and the reveal of the Bent-Neck Lady's identity as among the best moments for the genre this year. But while the show spends so much time focusing itself on the characters' bitter adult lives, it never bridges the two time periods in any significant way. With the way the series presents it and the way the characters talk, it's as if in the thirty or so years between their stay at Hill House and the present day nothing happened at all. There's an occasional remark about how long it's been since their stay there but I never got the sense that these were the same people, that the kids there had grown into these adults. I can see the argument being made that it's because they all remained trapped in Hill House in a sense without realizing it but it still doesn't make the adult sections any more compelling than the tiresome melodrama they are.

But more than anything else, the series suffers primarily because it comes across to me as pale imitation of Hereditary, a genre piece that much more effectively connects family history and tragedy with the supernatural. That film had its flaws (largely the exploitative use of the daughter's actress), but I came out of it devastated for that family and shaken by the entire experience. Here, all I can muster is a shrug at its heavily make-upped ghouls and move on to the next of Netflix's seasonal offerings.

User avatar
Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: The Haunting of Hill House

#25 Post by Persona » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:49 pm

It had been previously announced that the series would be anthology style and now Netflix has announced that season 2 will be The Haunting of Bly Manor.

That's right, Bly Manor of The Turn of the Screw infamy.

I am so pumped.

Post Reply