This article may contain spoilers.
It is virtually impossible to go online these days without becoming aware of a very popular show by the name of The Haunting of Hill House, based on the story by Shirley Jackson.
In spite of Netflix’s recent propensity to churn out mass amounts of medium-quality content (did I say that?), this series is the perfect high-quality recipe for scaring the living crap out of you. So why is it so damn scary? Here are five reasons why The Haunting of Hill House is masterful enough for even Stephen King to call it “close to a work of genius.”
That which shocks us most is the unexpected. Mike Flanagan’s creation and adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel expertly lures you into deep interpretation of psychological twists, only to torment you with inopportune jump-scares. Watch this show, and find yourself screaming “Holy crap!” at 3:00 in the morning. You’ll leap from bed, clutch your laptop in self-defense, and suddenly come to the realization that sleep is no longer a possibility.
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Watching each episode makes you feel like an overachieving middle-school student. As a question is posed, you raise your hand in desperation, desperate to notify your fellow peers of the correct answers. Class ends, and the teacher maliciously decides to leave one of the most essential components of the entire subject as a cliffhanger. Watch Episode 6 of The Haunting of Hill House and you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. Each time the family broaches the essential topic, why the hell all this bad stuff is happening to them, we desperately long for Luke or Hugh to stand up and tell the rest of the family what is really going on. Then, when Hugh finally starts to give some clarity to Luke over the nature of his family’s past, the conversation gets cut short just before we learn those essential details we’ve all been craving!
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If you want to effectively scare the entire American populace, pick a locale for the apex of your story that wanders with inexplicable passages and intransigently locked red doors; have the keeper of the home maintain an heir of mystery and provide only opaque stories behind why he and his wife refuse to enter the mansion after dinner; subject the estate to localized micro-storms which shatter windows and impact no area outside the radius of the home. Have a graveyard. Have a basement. Have a dumbwaiter. With enough of these ingredients, yea, you’ve produced an absolutely terrifying construct.
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Crazy Family of the Past
What’s a frightening tale without developing details of an historic family’s psychosis and tragedy? Flanagan’s creation slowly intertwines the bloodied fate of a tormenting Hill family, rich with a married couple having met in an insane asylum, a ghostly child by the name of “Abigail” who frequently pays visit to the Crains, and the unexplained history of a “bent-neck lady,” who seemingly either hung herself or was strangled in the past. All of it is shocking, and all of it complements the aura of terror expertly.
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On top of the psychological terror, the horrifying backdrop, and the many other ingredients of a masterpiece, “The Haunting of Hill House” portrays relatable character development, forcing us to empathize with its protagonists. Even halfway through, we feel like we’ve known these characters their entire lives.
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I would seriously not recommend this show to anyone who has sworn avoidance of all subjects supernatural. I would also not make my worst enemy watch this show by themselves at three in the morning.
Regardless of these disclaimers, if you have no serious aversion to the horror genre, this show is a must, and, I believe, a future classic of the “binge-watching” era.
Featured Image Via Nerdist