All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

The husband and I watched this series in a mad dash to finish before he left for a week to Tennessee, and we have been talking about it and texting each other links since, like, last Thursday night.

As we all may know at this point, I have a serious love for things that are ambitious but flawed. It, the novel. The Dark Tower series. A couple of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. Glee. The Netflix Hill House is definitely on that list.

To boil it down: it was super-cool; go watch it if you haven’t already. But it’s not perfect, and that’s okay–they really went for a vision and they hit most of it.

So, below the cut (assuming I can figure out how to do a cut, as I’m doing this on my iPad) … SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE.

Things I Loved

  • The atmosphere of this entire show is amazing. It’s not just the background ghosts (although those were awesome) or the Red Room; it’s the wallpaper and the camera angles and the quiet of it.
  • The relationships between the family were really well-drawn; everyone had a different relationship with each other. They all adored Nell, but they related to her in unique ways.
  • I liked the echoes to the book quite a lot. Theo, the banging walls, “whose hand was I holding?”, journeys end in lovers meeting, come home Nell, the rain of stones–I’ve read the director calling it a remix, and that sounds right.
  • The jump scare in the car sent me backwards across the couch to get away from the TV. I was worried for a minute that I’d gasped loud enough to wake the kid. The last time I did anything like that was in high school, watching Bob climb over the sofa in Twin Peaks.
  • Those tracking shots, oh my god.
  • The scenes at the wedding where the other kids all find out/figure out that Theo is a lesbian were hilarious and really cemented the kids as siblings for me. It also made Kevin and Shirley’s marriage seem real to me, as well. It was an elegant way to invest me in their adult lives, which then made it worse as they all fell apart.
  • Okay, so Nell. Guys. Nell and the Bent-Neck Lady? That reveal?
    • Look, the Bent-Neck Lady was just creepy as hell. The only thing that creeped me out more was the glimpse Steve got of his mother shambling after them as Hugh carried him down the hallway (more on that later).
    • HOWEVER. When we find out that the Bent-Neck Lady is Nell …
      • First, I kind of vaguely wondered if it was one of the girls or their Mom, but it was still a huge moment.
      • The way they did it–Nell falling through her life backwards like some sort of terror-filled carnival drop ride–was really, really good.
    • It was horrifying. And I mean that in it evoked horror. I cringed away from the unfairness of it, the just evil of it. It was a great, great moment.

Things I Didn’t Care For

  • The first paragraph of The Haunting of Hill House is an amazing piece of writing. Like, I read it aloud to Scott in the car before we watched the show. I am really not excited that they took this gorgeous bit of prose by a female author and gave it to a man. (I get really annoyed when I see the quote attributed to Steve on the internet.)
  • Also really didn’t like the rewrite of that paragraph at the end.
  • I don’t think they earned the happy ending. Probably because of the reveal of Nell as the Bent-Neck Lady. A place that does that to someone is not going to suddenly become some sort of safe haven and leave the kids alone.
    • Scott feels that the “happy” is undermined by Nell and Olivia’s expressions as Hugh goes into the Red Room. This may be true; I’m not sure.
  • Poppy was just not that scary. Or creepy. Except for when she was talking about her kids. Otherwise, though, she sort of fell flat for me.
  • This is a taste thing: I like mystery. I don’t want all the answers. I find things more disturbing when I don’t know everything. Hill House the series gave me a few too many answers (like what it was that Steve saw over his dad’s shoulder). I can see how someone might really enjoy all the puzzle pieces coming together as the show went on, though; it just wasn’t what I wanted in a show like this.
  • Some of the dialogue was wonky; what on earth show was Annabeth Gish’s character in?

Published by Laura E. Price

I read (you can check out my Goodreads if you want; it's linked on my blog). I write (I’ve been published in Cicada, On Spec, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Betwixt, Metaphorosis, Gallery of Curiosities, The Cassandra Project; the stuff that’s available online is linked on my blog). I plan for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and welcome the coming of the gorilla revolution. Or the anarchist rabbits. Whichever happens first. (I also blame my husband for basically everything.)

3 thoughts on “All my thoughts on ‘The Haunting of Hill House’

  1. I don’t believe it was intentionally underlined by the director/writer. I think it*should* be underlined, but that is really wishful thinking.

  2. Let me be more clear. I read an interview with the writer and he said that he wanted to give hope with the ending. I thought that might have been different when I read (before the above mentioned article) an article about how the song at the end was about a guy who lost his wife, he went crazy and killed himself in his house. And yes, you were right to say I read too much into the faces of the mom and Nell. I just wish it had been intentionally underlined by the song and by the faces.
    Honestly though, I cannot see how that is a happy ending in any way shape or form. I can’t figure out how you can see hope in any of that.

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