The Haunting of Hill House: Season 1
October 14, 2018 9:32 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. Netflix, full season.
posted by skycrashesdown (71 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked the time travel haunting aspect a lot ! The ending was a bit maudlin though.
posted by Pendragon at 3:48 PM on October 14, 2018 [5 favorites]


Trying to avoid spoilers because I’m not done yet but also find out for my very-phobic, anxiety prone, yet horror loving sister—are there any wasps or bees beyond the dried nest in Ep. 2? It seemed like that would be back, but then there were just other bugs in Ep. 2 and none in Ep. 3. Bugs are fine, but bees and wasps make her lose her shit and I want to warn her if needed.
posted by terilou at 7:49 PM on October 14, 2018


terlou: Nope, all clear of bees and wasps.
posted by Pryde at 9:41 PM on October 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mike Flanagan is awesome. If you like this, watch Absentia. Or any of his films, really. He's semi-prolific, by modern filmmaking terms, and consistently good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 AM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


The good stuff: I really enjoyed the visual effects. There weren't an annoying number of jump scares and a lot of the imagery was just ~off~ enough to be really creepy. Great acting from the adults. And I want all of Carla Gugino's dressing gowns!

The not so great: it was really dragging toward the end. You could easily have trimmed the series by 2 episodes, possibly more. My enthusiasm was considerably dampened by the end. The kid actors were uniformly awful--too bad they couldn't have gotten any of the Stranger Things kids. And I really felt like Timothy Hutton was wasted here.

On balance, though, it was a good series and I liked what they did with the story. And I've decided that wearing gloves all the time will be my next affectation du jour.
posted by orrnyereg at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2018


Forgot to add! Did anyone else find the supernatural clock-repair guy hilarious? With the mustache and coveralls I was waiting for him to say "It's a-me!"
posted by orrnyereg at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


This was quite imperfect near the end but overall it is the only mostly successful long-form horror television I can recall. (Anthology series don't necessarily count since individual episodes of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits or Black Mirror are more like tiny self contained movies than a serialized show.) Some people might point to AHS but, while I did enjoy the first season mostly because of the very strong cast, I don't think AHS is nearly as successful overall as this was, nor would I call it as firmly in the horror tradition in the way this was despite the name AHS. I guess there's always been a campy side of the horror genre but its never been my preferred way to do it.

On the other hand THoHH stands firmly in the tradition of the horror genre in a unqiue way for television. It feels a lot like the recent and also-successful Hereditary, even down to the shaky last act.

The time-displaced haunting was apparently supposed to be a twist but it seemed obvious to me that they were Hodoring it up the second the words "bent-neck woman" were uttered. And I rolled my eyes at the heavy-handed foreshadowing with the ropes and the... platform thing in the library which I think has a technical name but is a platform in a library... But that's ok, it still worked well even without being surprising.
posted by Justinian at 5:24 PM on October 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Some people might point to Stranger Things as successful horror to which I reply; successful yes, horror no. It feels more like The Goonies than Hereditary, or The Conjuring, It Follows or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2018


One thing AHS season 1 did really nicely was include the ghosts as first-class characters in the story. We met them, we learned their ambitions and their flaws. Ghosts are such a neat device to explore broken personalities. In Hill House, we mostly just saw ghosts sulking or menacing in the background, or jump-scaring, or in passing. That's good too, but I think they could have gone a lot further with the ghost personalities. I was half expecting the caretakers to pull a The Others, but that didn't quite happen.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:56 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


For me the jump scares weren't the scariest. No, the scariest scene was the one in the hallway with floating guy casually knocking on doors and floating calmly into the room....shudder!!!!
posted by Pendragon at 2:00 AM on October 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I’m still thinking about this show, but I just wanted to share that at 5:53 am the morning after we finished binge-watching the whole season, my husband’s black formal top hat, which had been content to hang on a nail on the wall for several years, somehow fell off the wall, hit the side of the bed hard enough to wake me up (!?), and landed upright on the floor, facing me, still rocking gently when I confusedly turned the light on.

If it had been a black bowler hat, I probably would have just started screaming then and there.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:15 AM on October 16, 2018 [11 favorites]


I liked it except for 1.) the way the ending dragged a bit, and 2.) the cats in episode 2. I am heartily and thoroughly sick of movies and TV shows that use dead animals to shock or make a point.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:03 PM on October 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


From The Profound Grief of the Haunting of Hill House, by Lindsey Romain at Vulture:
Trauma builds walls. Left untended, they keep going up. Soon, you’re trapped in a house of its making: long hallways leading nowhere, empty rooms, doors that swing open and slam shut by the weather of your moods. You climb the stairs and shout through the windows, hungry for a way out, lost in the labyrinthine sinew of personal devastation. Some of us find an escape. Some of us don’t.

Netflix’s new ten-episode horror series, The Haunting of Hill House, uses Shirley Jackson’s famous novel as a road map to explore this house-as-body metaphor, and it does so with a profound and precise tenderness.
I think this series is somewhat disappointing as a haunted house story or horror: the ghosts themselves get progressively less creepy the more we see them, and the more closely we see them. Anyone looking for really good scares won't necessarily find them here. But as the Vulture article says, it's an affecting exploration of grief and trauma, rendered through both figurative and literal hauntings. All in all, I found the series to be an excellent use of genre fiction to tell a story deeply rooted in characters and relationships.

The ending did get kind of maudlin and saccharine though. I didn't entirely mind, because I certainly prefer a gentler ending to a harsher one, especially nowadays. I'm wondering if this is meant to get a second season though? The story wrapped up entirely satisfactorily to me. I'd be up for a second season where Theo uses her psychic powers to fight crime though.
posted by yasaman at 7:36 PM on October 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


A brief guide to Mike Flanagan's other work:

Absentia - His first feature, oft-recommended on MeFi. A woman has waited seven years for the courts to finally declare her long-missing husband dead. Maybe he's not really gone though... and maybe the creepy pedestrian tunnel near their home is the key. A micro-budget wonder that justifiably put Flanagan on the map. 75% on RT

Oculus - A brother and sister find that an antique mirror in their home may host a malevolent force. An expansion of his earlier short film. Features both Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff. 73% on RT

Hush - More a thriller than a straight horror feature. A deaf writer living in a remote home is targeted by a masked killer. Kate Siegel (who plays Theo on THoHH, and is also Flanagan's spouse) co-wrote and stars. Less a disabled-woman-in-peril film than a film about a killer who thought it would be fun to act out that trope, and what happens when it turns out he has underestimated his would-be victim.89% on RT

Ouija: Origin of Evil - Remember how Ouija made a lot of money but wasn't very good? The producers noticed that, too. They decided to try and redeem themselves and the franchise by hiring Flanagan to make a follow-up and trusting him to do whatever he wanted. He made a period piece about a single mom and cast Henry Thomas (Eliot from ET, Hugh Crane from THoHH) as a priest. Like most of his work, it eschews jump scares for dread and vulgar, heartless gore in favor of shining a warped supernatural light onto recognizable and relatable human issues. 82% on RT

Before I Wake - Sort of Flanagan's take on the vibe from The Sixth Sense, though a different story. 61% on RT, but definitely has its moments.

Gerald's Game - Steven King's seemingly unfilmable woman stuck-tied-to-a-bed story becomes a resonant tour de force from Flanagan and Carla Gugino. 90% on RT
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


I loved this. I think it just got better at episode six onward. And I think it was truly scary. I really only like horror that is built on a solid foundation of unrelenting dread and the sense of being in a nightmare. Then and only then, do I enjoy jump scares and gore.

So this worked for me and will continue to creep me out as I recall it in the future. But more than that, what I really loved about it is that the real scaffolding of the story is each of these distinctive individual people and fully-formed family dynamics. This really hit me hard in the funeral episode where I realized the preceding five had fully informed me of each of these people and their first time together on screen interacting under such difficult conditions was crystal clear to me in terms of characterization and it all played out not how I expected, but truthfully.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


I really only like horror that is built on a solid foundation of unrelenting dread and the sense of being in a nightmare.

Did you see Hereditary?
posted by Justinian at 4:29 PM on October 17, 2018


Not yet; soon!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:01 PM on October 17, 2018


I just burst into tears when the camera panned round in the funeral scene to show the dad seeing all his kids as children.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:02 AM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


This show was really an emotionally fraught thing to watch for me. It was haunting. And reminded me of The Orphanage which is quite possibly the saddest horror movie I've ever watched. The Haunting of Hill House is up there with that. I cried a lot. I also screamed and jumped and scared my cat at one of the jump scenes. I liked that there was a happy ending, maudlin as it was.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 1:35 PM on October 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


The Bent Neck Lady episode...yikes...messed up on so many levels and I loved it.
posted by jenjenc at 8:04 PM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm a horror buff and a big fan of Mike Flanagan and a huge fan of Carla Gugino (who really deserves an Emmy for this) and this ticked all my boxes until the last 15 minutes or so. I hesitate to even say that because it feels like I'm violating my never-discuss-spoilers policy, but I guess as a discussion of the whole season, spoilers are okay here?

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOW, BEWARE, [SCARY GHOST NOISE]

I loved almost everything about this series: I loved the cast, I loved how tragic it was, I loved how it generally eschewed jump scares and gore for mounting dread, and when there was a jump scare or gore it felt totally earned. (That scene in the car—Best jump scare ever, not at all cheap.) The one thing I didn't love was how, after 9.75 episodes hammering home the point that Hill House chews up people and families, all of a sudden dying in Hill House so you can be a ghost there and be with your dead family members forever is an awesome happy ending? Even though you and your family had been tortured (perhaps for decades) and murdered by the house you're now doomed to spend eternity in??
posted by ejs at 12:24 AM on October 19, 2018 [18 favorites]


My kid is rewatching the last episode and Luke is on the floor OD'ing, and he is basically dying just as Abigail did 26 years earlier as the house wanted his mother to have him die, frothing at the mouth. (How did the house want the father to die? He dies of a literal broken heart.)
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:23 AM on October 19, 2018


I agree with ejs, and what the hell was up with that sappy song playing over the last five minutes? I enjoyed the series, but the ending just utterly tanked. The father had to sacrifice his life to prevent his dead wife from MURDERING their children, and it was a happy family reunion with twangy country music?

A better ending would have shown the house using the dead to trick the living into becoming its food. Steve's Dad tries to claw him back in and he barely manages to burn the place down. Anything.

If there's a season two it better start with Luke driving up the driveway with another batch of gasoline. Maybe during the DAY this time you idiot.
posted by Dynex at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


For me the jump scares weren't the scariest. No, the scariest scene was the one in the hallway with floating guy casually knocking on doors and floating calmly into the room....shudder!!!!

Episode 4 Ghost is my new spirit animal. The design there is just.... *Chef's Kiss*
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:44 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Since we see Hugh, Olivia, and Nell in the Red Room, which had given every one a place of their own in the house, at the end maybe for them their ending is happy even though they are trapped. Otherwise, yeah the ending was weird even though I didn't really mind.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 12:33 PM on October 19, 2018


I didn't like that, either, but the writers had kind of painted themselves in a corner, partly with the mom's ghost actually believing that they would be happy as ghosts, but particularly that the Dudleys wanted the house to continue to exist so they could see Abigail. That made no sense, really (well, except how tempting to them it would be if Abigail's ghost seemed like it was her undamaged, not-evil self) but they had to have some excuse for the dad to not have had the house destroyed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2018


I also thought it was great up until the last half hour or so. From the point that ghost Nell made her sappy, saccharine speech about confetti onwards it was just torturous in a completely different way. Here's this show that has been really creepy and unsettling and done some really interesting things and... Now it's all about love and sticking together as a family and happy endings for everyone, even the ghost family. Just made me want to puke. The Dudleys and their bizarre reaction to finding their dead daughter was clearly a plot device and made no sense. Aaaaaargh! And yeah that folky guitar song over the end was just so irritating!

Then they actually quoted some more Shirley Jackson - as if Steve could ever write anything that good, which you could tell, because the bits that weren't her were just abysmal - just to rub it in that the whole end could have been much, much better. I'm aware that I wouldn't have been so pissed off if it hadn't been so good up until that point, but yeah.

If there is a season 2 (though how could there be?) I hope it's about the generations of ghosts at Hill House deciding they are going to take over the village or something.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, did Hugh ever make it inside the Red Room? I mean, apart from rescuing the kids from the tea party. He seems to have been the only one who didn't have a special room.

It just hit me: Poppy used the Red Room as a nursery. No wonder she wound up killing them.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:08 PM on October 19, 2018 [5 favorites]


WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS I'VE BEEN WATCHING THIS NIGHTMARE FOR EIGHT HOURS AND WHENEVER I TRY TO STOP ONE OF THE CATS IS OBSESSIVELY LICKING A PLASTIC BAG and I'm sorry for the caps but I haven't been messed up by entertainments like this since Hereditary and that was only two hours worth of nightmare I just
posted by angrycat at 1:48 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh man, I just finished this. Is this the feelings place? I have some feelings I'd like to register.

As I watched the earlier episodes, I kept picking up on details that annoyed me and thinking I had to give up watching it, but I just couldn't quite. After watching Luke's episode, I knew I was going to finish it, because of the tall man.

I have mild PTSD. It doesn't come up in public very much, but one place that it does is when I have to walk through streets associated with a certain thing that happened to me. The last time I did so, I had a distinct mental image of a skeletal corpse attached to my back, following me down the sidewalk. When the tall man's figure followed Luke down the street behind his back, I thought: there it is. There is what that is like. It gave me a feeling of deep connection that I have only experienced with the best horror works. So I knew I was in it for the long haul.

I continued to have some problems with it. I thought that Poppy's character was handled poorly; I am a big fan of terrifying beautiful ghosts from the 1920s, but that was really broadly done, with a weird accent and misplaced slang. Still, the ending made me cry. Call me sentimental, but I am in a place right now, and I just really enjoyed seeing these characters starting to make choices that could lead them to real happiness. I'm also a big fan of the Entombing House motif and of the weirdness of circular time, so I liked that. I was not fond of their altering Jackson's seminal line to "whoever walked there, walked together." But by that time, I had already got my money's worth of catharsis.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


You could do a gender analysis on this jawn, although I don't known if some of the regressive stuff comes from the original Shirley Jackson or not. Like who would want to be a mother to a baby for eternity. Now, I'm not a mom, so maybe I'm just dead inside, but after a year of the baby just being a baby, I'd start to rethink this eternal mom stuff.

They had the same ghost baby thing on AHS, (Murder House). No, they couldn't just have Connie Britton play the cello, she has to raise a ghost baby.
posted by angrycat at 12:37 AM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thinking how similar the ending is to Murder House, one reason why Murder House's ending worked is because there were quite a few sweet ghosts hanging out there already, so the ending that is sweet works.

Here, I think that you have too many episodes of dread with everything in the house being just terrible for the ending to make sense. The ending where Jackson's words are changed, and is something like 'and what walked there, walked together.' I mean, what? How did we go to evil ghosts who want you to die to like, oh, family hanging out there forever, how nice?


A comment that maybe goes to the effectiveness of the earlier episodes.
posted by angrycat at 3:52 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm at episode 8, and I'm finding it difficult to keep going. It's not scary any more, and all of the tension has been taken out of the show by the over-explaining, the endless dialogue, and the fact that I hate every member of this terrible family except for the one that just died. If I never see another television show that uses flashbacks as a storytelling crutch (or that takes any element from the LOST playbook), then it'll be too soon. This might've been a great 3 episode limited series.
posted by codacorolla at 8:03 PM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don’t care much for horror as a genre, but I love me some dysfunctional family drama. Also I’m somewhat obsessed with sad/creepy piano waltzes, which this series had in abundance.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I didn’t find it very scary, but horror movies don’t tend to work on me, so no surprise there. And the series worked pretty well as a straight drama, though I agree the ending was overly saccharine.

Did anyone else catch the super long takes during episode six? I had to go back and count. The first 45 minutes are composed of four continuous tracking shots, the longest of which is 17 minutes long. I’ve never seen a television series attempt that long of a scene before (almost three times the length of the famously long take in True Detective season one, though definitely not as complicated).

Here are the cuts, in case anyone's curious: 15:39, 23:05, 40:24, 46:37, and 50:18, then the coffin topples over and the camera work goes back to normal. They might have snuck in some other cuts using camera trickery, but those are the obvious ones.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:32 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I watched the entire series in three days (that's really fast for me. I am bad at watching tv shows). I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I actually loved all the Crains, even Steven, Shirley, and Hugh. Though Theo is obviously the best, with Nell a close second. I didn't love the actor who played Luke, though he wasn't BAD exactly. I just didn't think he seemed like a member of that family (maybe intentionally?) and didn't seem at ALL like the child actor who played him as a kid. It was just jarring because the child actor who played Shirley was SO MUCH LIKE Elizabeth Reaser. (Really, really great casting there. They looked a lot alike and had similar mannerisms. I would actually believe those two actors were related.)

I found it very scary and very sad. The best jump scare was Nell's ghost popping up between fighting Theo and Shirley and screaming at them. Like, first of all: I feel you, girl. Shut UP, Shirley, GOD. (Also, why did no one point out that Theo didn't try to fuck your husband BECAUSE SHE IS GAY, SHIRLEY. YOUR SISTER IS GAY. I thought it was weird that neither Kevin or Theo said that.)

I actually loved the reveal about the red room. I had actually thought in the first episode when Steve and Luke were in the tree house that it was weird that the dad took the time to build a tree house when they were just there temporarily to flip the house. Like, doesn't it take a long time to build a tree house? AND I WAS RIGHT, HA.

I also loved the Dudleys. I was expecting them to be kind of evil because aren't the secretive caretakers of a haunted house always evil? But they were lovely. I was so touched by Mr. Dudley's monologue about their lost daughter and how strong his wife his. He called her a "towering woman" and man. That's a guy who loves his wife. And I love Annabeth Gish SO! MUCH! I wished she been in it more.

I thought the ending was super sappy and saccharine but I was totally okay with it because I had come to love all the Crains so much. I'm not sure it holds together with the internal logic of the show: is the house an evil entity who drives people mad and devours their souls or is it a happy retirement home for ghosts?
posted by Aquifer at 7:25 AM on October 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


The ending was a disappointment to me, but then I got to thinking maybe it was the House just doing another bait-and-switch happy glowy fairytale daydream which will then be revealed as a big fat lie and lead to more horror (the house has claimed another family member, right? Seems like ripe fruit for Season 2 of Stephen and Shirley's broken marriages, Luke's relapse, and Theo's philandering winding them right up for another visit to ol' Hilly). Like, they really got me in the first scene of ep 10 with Stephen's wish fulfilment fantasy- I was getting a head of steam worked up about shitty male protagonists getting away with somehow saving the day despite their bad behaviour- before they pulled the rug out from under the scene and my faith was restored in the quality of the writing and directing. So maybe I should give the show runners some more faith- which they deserve in my opinion- and read more into the ending than mawkishness.

They still shouldn't have butchered Jackson's incredible opening paragraph though. "Whatever walked there, walked together"? Disgusting!
posted by mymbleth at 3:09 PM on October 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm almost 100% positive on the show as a whole but I agree that changing Jackson's line was TERRIBLE.
posted by Aquifer at 7:38 PM on October 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


The ending was a disaster. Honestly, everything about it was so bad, and what really bothers me is that the fakeout scene with Steve and Leigh at the beginning of the episode shows -- or should have shown -- that Flanagan knew how disappointing a copout love conquers all type ending would have been here, and he just...did it anyway.

I don't know how this story should have ended. I just know that the series to its endpoint grasped the complexity of grief and trauma. It's not stuff you just get over by holding hands with somebody and delivering a corny monologue. There's no shitty country song that plays. I'm so pissed off at this idiocy. What the fuck.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:31 PM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, I am like -- I don't even know what to say about Shirley confessing her affair. What the hell good does that do? And this is the kind of thing I mean with this dumbass conclusion to the show: this scene is presented as some wonderful moment that I guess fixes the hole in Shirley's heart or whatever, but really -- fuck Shirley? Because if you love someone and you hurt them in that way, how in the hell does it benefit the one you love to know you broke a promise? It doesn't. That's just about you, the same way an affair is just about you. You should drop it in the vault, your vault, and be tormented by the knowledge of it forever, or be secretly turned on by it, or just never think about it again, because it's not your partner's problem, it's your problem. Sharing it doesn't fix it. Confession is not a magic bullet...far from it. Sometimes there isn't any magic bullet. I feel like it's almost dangerously wrongheaded to imply otherwise.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:43 PM on October 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


Came in here to say that I loved the show and am generally blown away. I'm a little disappointed to see everyone else didn't feel the same way. It's the most ... adult horror thing I've seen? Mature? I've seen horror as a metaphor for trauma before, but never explored so thoroughly. It's so perfect - other people don't understand or believe, it doesn't operate logically or realistically, it bleeds through to the present moment always, everything.

All the acting was fantastic, and I was blown away that the kids were full blown characters with their own subtle mannerisms and quirks.

Also, I haven't seen the actor who once played Elliot since E.T. and recognized him immediately,
posted by xammerboy at 7:06 AM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, I am like -- I don't even know what to say about Shirley confessing her affair. What the hell good does that do? And this is the kind of thing I mean with this dumbass conclusion to the show: this scene is presented as some wonderful moment that I guess fixes the hole in Shirley's heart or whatever, but really -- fuck Shirley? Because if you love someone and you hurt them in that way, how in the hell does it benefit the one you love to know you broke a promise? It doesn't. That's just about you, the same way an affair is just about you. You should drop it in the vault, your vault, and be tormented by the knowledge of it forever, or be secretly turned on by it, or just never think about it again, because it's not your partner's problem, it's your problem. Sharing it doesn't fix it. Confession is not a magic bullet...far from it. Sometimes there isn't any magic bullet. I feel like it's almost dangerously wrongheaded to imply otherwise.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:43 PM on October 22 [+] [!]


No, this totally worked for me. Because Shirley's character was built upon being someone who instinctively claims and holds the moral high ground and lords that over everyone else. Shirley knows Kevin is devoted to her. Shirley knows Theo is gay (even if it's unclear to what extent she has accepted that.) And Shirley sure as hell knows about her own infidelity. But because no one else cares about people taking Steve's money (and I don't even know if that's a genuinely hurtful thing to Shirley or just another principle she's dictating down with which to judge others and keep them at arms' length) she gloms onto a flash that she didn't even see properly as the reason to be superior.

This (aside from the best jump scare maybe ever) is what made the car scene so great. Shirley isn't shutting Theo down because Theo is making excuses. Shirley is shutting Theo down because Theo is being vulnerable and showing what happened to be understandable, and since Shirley's fling was so calculated, Shirley can't hear that.

So no, maybe Kevin doesn't want to hear about Shirley's night with Ryan, but for the sake of their marriage, I think the honesty, vulnerability, and most of all willingness to give up that high ground that has been her protective cloak this whole time are going to bear dividends.

TL;DR: Fuck that ending line.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:41 AM on October 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


According to Mike Flanagan, the season's one and done, at least when it comes to the Crains:
In an interview with EW, writer and director Mike Flanagan said that though he hasn’t heard from Netflix or the show’s producers Paramount and Amblin about whether they want a second season, “as far as I’ve ever been concerned with this, the story of the Crain family is told. It’s done.” Flanagan added that he can imagine going in new directions “with the house or with something completely different” and that he likes the idea of some sort of anthology. “I felt like the Crains have been through enough,” he said, “and we left them exactly as we all wanted to remember them, those of us who worked on it.”
posted by yasaman at 7:33 PM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


I slogged through the interminable final two episodes, and wow... this show was a major disappointment. I don't necessarily hate the concept of talky, character based horror, but I think that you need good characters and an interesting story for that to work. Every Crane is completely awful as a person, and are generally not interesting to follow, because they're awful in roughly the same, telegraphed, facile way over all 10 episodes. For as much talking as they do, they're all about an inch deep. Hugh cradling the mom and saying his catch phrase (I can fix this!) would've been laughable if it wasn't so tedious.

Like... everything about the actual plot is so boring and overused. Flashback themed character episodes, time travel, the maudlin family drama, and even the scares and aesthetic itself. There's nothing here except cliche.

It sucks, because it was well shot, and the first three episodes did a decent job of building tension.
posted by codacorolla at 8:58 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I haven't seen this because I don't have NetFlix, but I got a query from a PlanetSlade reader asking for more info on a murder ballad which one of the characters sings in the final episode. She thought it was called The Grattan Murders. Does that make sense?

Turns out I'd already written about it, so if you're interested you can find out about the true multiple murder chronicled in that song by scrolling down to August here. It all happened in Indiana in 1893...

Edited to add: Looking at Wikipedia's episode guide I think what she had in mind may have been the poem recited by a ghost called Poppy?
posted by Paul Slade at 12:38 PM on October 25, 2018


I know this one! The poem is from a nursery rhyme that Shirley Jackson used to sing to her children.

Everything I read about her makes me like her more and more.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:33 PM on October 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


My wife and I have developed our own expanded mythology for the tall ghost with the cane: he was a competent but easily confused mason with a new hat he was profoundly fond of, accidentally bricked himself up and became a ghost, and then some shitty kid steals his hat! Stupid kid.

So he takes his hat back, but the kid doesn't even apologize for stealing his hat, and Tall Ghost feels like he is least owed an apology, so he follows the kid around for a long time! Even to L.A. He just wants an apology! That's all! A simple "sorry I stole your hat" would suffice.

He is a Jon Klassen ghost.

I am also not super fond of the ending. I came away with the impression that there's super bad Poppy and just a bunch of other ghosts kind of chillin' in the mansion and going with the spooky flow.

I would have been much more on board with a nine-episode series that ended on the entire family about to enter the House (with Luke, they caught up to him and said "let's take it on together" or something) and cut to black and we never know what happens after that.

And I'm surprisingly okay with the idea of an anthology series about buildings that are just "made bad". Nightmare condo? Inherently evil HOA development? I'm actually sort of on board with the idea of many "Hill Houses" that are just kind of buildings with evil in the mortar, that we never think twice about.
posted by Shepherd at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


All I know is that I felt like I needed a support group to go talk to after each episode. So much pain and trauma and sad pouring out of the screen. I feel like the actors did a really good job. Also I know those feels when Theo said "whenever I feel like punching something I take a drink" then there's a just a tiny moment in that episode where she's leaning against a wall, says "punch" and takes a swig.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 10:51 AM on October 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed parts of it. There were moments of creepiness that stuck with me hours after seeing it. I tried to divorce it from the source material to enjoy it more. But then that ending line. Woof. It's not "Yellow Wallpaper being about vampires" bad (spoilers for a movie adaptation nobody should ever watch) but I want to shake Flanagan and ask him if he's ever actually read the book. Like the Yellow Wallpaper movie, I probably should have turned it off when I heard a male narrator. The good moments were so good that it's almost angering to have it end so stupidly.
posted by MaritaCov at 4:22 PM on October 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've changed my mind. It's not almost angering. As I think over the series as a whole and my love for the book I am becoming more and more frustrated. The book was Nell's story. Yes, she was an unreliable narrator but it was still her perspective. It was also a decidedly feminine perspective. All of that is erased with the series. It becomes about a man and his siblings. And yes, despite all the siblings getting their time, the story opens and closes with Steve's narration. They took the words of a woman and put them into a man's book by making Steve the writer. It's infuriating. The ending is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things Flanagan didn't understand about the novel.
posted by MaritaCov at 11:00 PM on October 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


I just finished the series. Overall I thought it was very good, with a few missteps.

I really like family dramas, though they tend to bring up some stuff with me. Anyone with a number of siblings I think would recognise a lot of parts in the show.

I think Flanagan in the main did a very good job of fusing a horror movie with a family drama. Indeed, the series works very well i think as an examination of the trauma untreated mental illness has on a family, the ways children respond to trauma differently and the scars it leaves.

I suspect one's tolerance for the ending would be quite dependent on if you view it primarily as horror, or primarily as a family drama. I think it could have worked if he didn't overplay it quite so much. Flanagan also clearly loves speechifying, and, for me, most the soliloquys throughout the series didn't work great. The cast was game but the words were usually too stilted, they really broke the fourth wall a lot for me. But occasionally he'd really nail it and it would be like, "oof".

I think a stronger ending would have been one that didn't resile from the damage and evil of the house so wholly. A scar is what's left after healing, after all. It should have showed that even with scars, you can still find meaning, love, connection. But its a compromised one. One in spite of, not because of. Theo moves in with her lover, but they are in separate rooms. Shirl cannot bring herself to confess, but she starts running the business better. Luke is clean, but he's lost without nell. Steven is back with Leigh, with another hugely popukar book, but now he believes in ghosts and is terrified for his incipient child because he knows the house wants it, and Leigh is concerned. Dad is in care. He had a heart attack in the house and is haunted by his wife/guilt.

A better mix of the family drama and ghost story trope.
posted by smoke at 4:31 AM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I, like xammerboy, fell in love with this show and was so surprised at all the harsh reception here. Yes, the ending was treacle-y, but I thought it was also true to the trauma the characters had carried with them their whole lives. I don't see being a ghost family trapped in the house as a "happy ending"; it's tragic and the result of desperate sadness and longing for relief. When the caretaker runs his dying wife thru the woods so she will remain there with the daughter, I burst into tears that lives could become so damaged by grief that this seemed like the greatest act of love.

I found it beautiful and tragic and just the perfect amount of traditional "scary" combined with horror at the lived human condition.
posted by donnagirl at 9:19 AM on October 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


We binge-watched this over the weekend with my brother and his wife. Stuff we liked:

-- The bowler hat ghost.
-- Episode 5. (We actually think the whole show could have ended RIGHT THERE.)
-- Theo.
-- Dad talking to Mom before we saw that he saw her.
-- Random faces in the background, watching. There are a LOT of them. I actually also kind of don't like this because I'm going to be looking a lot at dark windows and hallways now.
-- Luke's protection spell.
-- The dumbwaiter scene gave me flashbacks to one of the Half-Life 2 episodes.

Not so much:
-- So many of the women looked way too similar and even had the same hair... this made things more confusing with the flashbacks/time weirdness, at least for the first few episodes.
-- The bad optics of a lesbian character coming out of her personal "can't feel anything" horror by making out with a man.
-- Flipping a mansion in 8 weeks? Bullshit.
-- Asshole husband who had his tubes tied and didn't say anything at all to his wife about it while she desperately wanted kids. Almost redeemed by his Red Room dream scene with her, but then screwed up by the ending.
-- What with all the loose-end-tying that happened, there were still some ghosts that never really seemed to connect. The one Luke saw in the basement when he rode the dumbwaiter? "Mario" the clock repair guy?
-- The ending dragged on and seemed to get exponentially slower. Steve's slow monologue and whatever that song was and reframing this horrible cursed place into a happy ghost hotel...? Just no. It was a deeply unsatisfying ending and the phrase "cheese-ass family bullshit" that my brother's wife used to describe it is going to stick with me as long as anything else from the show.
posted by Foosnark at 6:54 AM on October 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, fridge logic: a secret basement for bootleggers okay, but under a frigging mansion it seems a bit off.
posted by Foosnark at 7:27 AM on October 29, 2018


Maybe Mario the clock repair guy was the dark mastermind who had discovered how to enable ghosts to time travel and all his tinkering with the clock was what made the Bent Neck Lady haunt Nell throughout her life. I'm half kidding but half serious.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


well, Athanassiel, I didn't think I needed to read any fanfic about this series, but
posted by Countess Elena at 3:14 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I Do Not Like the happy end for the house. Especially as it's not done, did you see the hate in Mom's eyes as the door closed? Mom's not here. She never was. Dad pleaded with it anyway, and saved the family. Dad is pretty awesome.

And even as Steve relives that night, his eyes finally open, we STILL don't know what happened after "I can fix this"...

The final episode had me in tears, time and time again, unbidden and unwanted, yet there they are.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:00 PM on October 30, 2018


Yep, really good series with a cheese-ass family bullshit ending.

I guess the other disappointment that I felt was Steve's story. He was my least favorite character for sure. They do make you understand his hypocrisy somewhat since he equates belief in ghosts with mental illness. Yet I was so bothered by the sequence near the beginning when he tells his interviewee that she didn't really see her husband, she just has a leaky roof. And his secret vasectomy subplot... wow, wasn't that an AskMe at some point? What a jerk. So when Hugh tells Steve that the house is especially dangerous to him personally, I admit, I was eager to see him get terrorized far beyond what he ended up experiencing. Instead, his awesome dad died, and I felt bad.

I liked the pseudo-dream sequences with the demonic spirits speaking through a loved one. The episode where they finally showed you what the mom was experiencing--and her kids were describing the real-life horror in their actual futures--was just amazing.

It was fun in every episode to look for the creepy ghosts that were just watching people in the house, still in the background. My husband and I kept noticing them and rewinding to make each other see. He swears the statues in the hallway kept looking in different directions in different scenes.

I felt like they ultimately left some mechanical aspects of the story unexplained though. Was Hugh being haunted by Liv all the time, everywhere, every day, or was he just imagining her being there? There was dialogue to suggest both things. The time confetti thing with Nell was interesting, but I'm not sure I get it. The episode named The Bent Neck Lady made me think that this was something the house had done to her somehow. Yet her dialogue in the final episode sounded more like the writers were trying to sum up life itself and say that everyone lives their life that way. I didn't think I was haunting myself...
posted by heatvision at 4:47 AM on October 31, 2018


The most terrifying thing in the final is to realize Liv isn't there, something else is.

Steve has been seeing ghosts all the time, and they've been protecting him. He doesn't understand or appreciate that, until tonight.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:46 AM on October 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Haunting of Hill House takes place in The Good Plave universe.

Jeremy Berimy
posted by Mick at 8:55 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well that was a hell of a big build up to fuck all that was vastly less smart than it believed itself to be. Also my god were all the monologues increasingly dumb and overwrought right up to the awful all-monologue last episode.

Should have trusted my instincts and bailed.
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on November 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also the bits where they quote Shirley Jackson are a crime.
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on November 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


Like... everything about the actual plot is so boring and overused. Flashback themed character episodes, time travel, the maudlin family drama, and even the scares and aesthetic itself. There's nothing here except cliche.

Late to the party (or am I early!?!!?) but, while I'd normally agree with the above, the layers of interaction between the flashbacks from different perspectives and the time travel (epitomised in bent neck lady but really all over the place) really worked as a take on those tropes - especially to the degree of inter-relatedness on show. Perhaps a couple of the later perspective changes on a scene via new info didn't work quite as well, but maybe we were just used to it by then (we watched over a couple of weeks so had time to digest and analyse).

Combined with the paucity of jump scares in favour of good old fashioned insecurity and rising dread it just worked for us. The final episode was a huge letdown, though, as all tension previously established got drowned in an interminable series of monologues. Cut out half of them (and maybe whittle down some earlier ones), and combine the final episode with the previous episode's 'mother is poisoner/abigail is real' reveal and it would have been a lot stronger, as the horror of those two elements might have soured the 'sacchrine' sweetness of the finale a bit.

But really, overall, this was the best long form horror I've seen, disappointing ending notwithstanding. For us, the journey was worth it.

(edited to add: haven't read the book so can't comment on travesties against literature)
posted by Sparx at 12:27 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


The good thing about this was I flew to Boston after Luke's episode, when the series was still building and delivering and had not yet jumped the shark into the disappointing Poppy idiocy, and my friend happened to have the collected Shirley Jackson, so I read The Haunting of Hill House, and then I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle (which also gets cluelessly magpied for this series) and a bunch of other stuff. ("The Summer People." Dang.) I'm still pecking away at it because my friend gave me the book, being excellent. If you read Shirley Jackson in school because "The Lottery" gets anthologized in school readers and you haven't revisited since, you might give her another look. When you're old enough to be scared of everything: that's the time to read Shirley Jackson.

But like: who the fuck is Poppy? I don't GAF about Poppy, yet I have to learn all about her for like a million hours when I want to be finding out what happens to the characters I've been following for eight episodes. I liked best the haunting of the family by itself: its own members, its own future, and its own past. I was also pleased with early-on HillHouse ghosts like bowlerhat guy and the sickroom woman and the dumbwaiter monster, but Poppy comes Charlstoning in all over the place way too late and pulls me out of the story and destroys all the carefully layered creepiness that the series has been building. And it's so pointless because there's no need for stupidass Poppy; why can't the mother just see her doomed future kids in nightmares and mirrors without a clunky assist from a yacky dumbass who is very clearly just an excuse to show more outfits because they had gone as far as it was possible to go with ornate dressing gowns for the fantoding mom? And if I'm honest, the mom got on my last goddamn nerve her ownself. Always smiling angelically and fluttering.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:36 AM on November 11, 2018 [8 favorites]


Suspect they were way better at adding cool new stuff than actually resolving anything, so it gets Lost syndrome.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


The thing with a room needed more indication that it was actually a thing to work as well.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well this was a pile of shit.

I'm so angry at Netflix for taking my subscription money and making... this???? with it?

The best I can say is it wasn't actively harmful like 13 Reasons Why. Other than that... what a festering mound of cheap exploitation.

I haven't read the book, but I did see the original 1960s b&w movie with Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, and it is. REALLY. frightening. I couldn't watch it continuously, I had to keep switching back and forth to another channel because it was. REALLY. frightening.

This? Not scary, just disturbing and upsetting for no properly earned reason. I do *not* need to have my emotions manipulated by [thankfully just the realistic effigies of course, but still] sick and dying kittens, dragged out in stages for maximum faux-sadness.

There's a reason why we prefer to see humans hurt onscreen rather than animals, and it was stated outright in the horrible cat-funeral scene. Note that the show sets this all up as a sad thing that happens in reality, and maturity entails facing that fact; and then has a horrifying thing that sometimes happens in reality, but pretties it up by using a pretty iridescent insect instead of whatever eldritch natural horror it would actually be. They didn't have the balls to go through with it. Not that I want them to because I do NOT need to see stuff like this on my screen EVER.

And the monsters were all so completely derivative. The basement monster? The Descent. The hat guy? bastard offspring of The Babadook and The Gentlemen. I could go on.

And they couldn't make a point without repeating it at least several times, because there wasn't enough material to sustain anywhere near 10 episodes. I was grimacing, imagining the writers' room playing improvisation games with post-it notes like "okay, what is the thing you most fear in life? what is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?" and them all making shit up that they ripped off a creepypasta because they're all 23 years old and the worst thing that ever happened to them is their pet snake died.

And then I find out that the whole thing was written by just one person? Guy should have put the pen down.

Some of the things, I did think, were very good. I found Theo quite likeable, and I also liked the same thing I liked about *Oculus* - that there *could* be a supernatural explanation for Theo's empathy, but it's equally likely she just pays attention and thinks stuff through. We see her do this when she listens to her little brother, and paces out the location of the hidden basement. The grownups are marvelling at Theo's unfathomable knowing, but we've seen that she actually just listens and thinks. I also liked how Theo's would-be disposable bar pickup continually insists on being in a relationship with her, because she senses that Theo really wants this despite her repeated brutal rejections.

I also liked Luke. Poor sod, even though his addiction misbehaviours were so sugarcoated. And I liked Nell, damsel in distress though she was; but she was so pretty.

I liked kid!Theo and kid!Luke and kid!theoldestboy too. I thought all the kids were pretty good actors.

Overall, though, the whole family were just too immature and histrionic to tolerate (except Luke, and Nell, both the identified patients, both of whom actively sought outside help for their overtly serious problems).

Shirley you dingbat, your husband is trying to run a fucking business here, if you want to provide charitable services then at least fucking think it through. Have a sliding scale or something.

Oldestguy you moron, denial is one thing but come ON. Oh you were too feeble to tell your wife you'd had a vasectomy, what a pathetic excuse for a man. I can't even. This is not even worthy of the worst possible sitcom plot. If you weren't bringing in decent money and sharing it with the family, I'd tell you to go slither between the window glazing like the slime mold you are and just, stay there.

Older Dad, I'm sorry they wrote that stammer into the script because it was really all too much. It may be true to life, but it didn't work onscreen.

And the monologues intensifying towards the end... I felt *very* sorry for the actors, having to memorize all that, and then having to actually say it, in front of everybody. They did the best they could, though Theo's sniveling could not be resusciated. I do think Nell pulled it off quite impressively, so props to her. Overall though I guess the actors are cringing all the way to the bank (I really really hope the money was good).

I will say the mom was consistently good, though even she got repetitive eventually because it was just all too long. I was unable to sustain attention for the finale, but I do not get the impression that whatever was in the house at the end was not Olivia.

But gee whiz, she asks "do you think there's something wrong with me" and I get that the others can't really perceive how wrong things are with her, because without seeing things directly from her perspective you would think she was just anxious or overstressed rather than having an outright psychotic break. And... if there is something wrong with you, Liv, isn't that a lot better than the alternative? Why are characters in haunted houses *this* scared of going crazy? Sure that's a difficult problem but at least you can work with it. But a haunted house which is infested with malevolent spirits and possibly a direct portal to hell, well some problems I just wouldn't know where to start.

Also, some of the costumes were good. Liv's robes were really nice. But not over and over again. B-.
posted by tel3path at 12:33 PM on November 12, 2018


I think the main flaw with the ending was all the shoehorned horror dreams Poppy gave the kids. It felt like a producer came back and said "yeah we need some big scary effects right about here"
Could have easily been 30 minutes shorter with the help of a loving editor.

I like how the show played with how some are actual houseghosts, but others were legit psychological manifestations of coping mechanisms, like the cheers guy for Shirl and Hugh's wife.

My favourite part of the series was all of the monologues, nuts to you haters.
Only casting crit is adult Luke, who always look ready to Quarterback his team to victory at a moment's notice.

So what was up with the dogs barking at night?
Were the police unable to enter the red room to find Abigail's blood? Poor Abigail, I blame homeschooling tbh.
posted by Theta States at 11:04 AM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]


The ending didn't land for me either. The house almost gets phrased as something neutral, but through the show the house is a dickish kind of evil. After each little trick I wanted it to cut to a picture of the house and play a Nelson Muntz "Ha-ha!". Or a Fozzie-esque wakka wakka wakka when the porch light would blink.

The monstrosity of the real world (which is evil enough on its own) and what Olivia wants to do as a murder-suicide, and the fate of the twins, is a strong main hook but it's a sharp contrast to Shirl's cheater's guilt or Glove Girl's heart growing three sizes, which get played at equal volume as everyone else's problems, or the seemingly nonsensical decision by the groundskeeper guy to drop his dying wife off inside the evil necro anomaly they know better than to fuck with. Just throw the endings together in a montage it'll work.

Olivia's story was like a matriarchal parallel to the Shining. Poppy might as well been Delbert Grady; insane fatherhood replaced with insane motherhood. I kinda liked that in a way. Jack Torrance had more room to be tormented and confused and twisted in the bar and bathroom scenes whereas Olivia doesn't seem to get much depth.

Also, the phrase "forever home" was spooky because obviously death is the forever home, the dusty stone houses of Hades are the forever home, but even that they kind of ran into the ground in the wrong way.
posted by fleacircus at 3:08 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


I thought this was really good, I really liked it, so skipped any negative comments above. That made this a short thread to read!

When I saw "really good", I mean it was trash obviously (I'm not sure what else one might expect from a show called The Haunting of Hill House). But it had a heart, it was really well structured, I thought the right length (though ep 10 could have used an extra pass or two at edit), some great acting, some respectable ambition. And some of the themes resonated with me rather strongly. No doubt that's key to how you feel about it.

I nearly didn't bother continuing after the first episode, I thought it was just going to be a bunch of dumb jump scares about a family I don't care about, whereas I like my horror creepy and my characters fully formed. But watching an episode each evening, the creepiness did get under my skin, not when watching it so much, but I was more spooked by things than usual, going about my business. Like for example last night when I turned around and my 3 year was just stood in the doorway with a blanket over his head. I jumped, whereas a week ago I'd have... not. And I really cared about all the characters, even when they were being jerks.

As noted above, ep 6 is worthy of special mention. I was vaguely aware of the long takes when watching it, and I remember wishing that more stuff was shot in that way, with the camera floating around at its own languid pace (as it turns out, so they could do things like swapping older actors out with their young counterparts and back again). Having read up on how it was shot, it's kind of amazing to read that the funeral home and Hill House were the same set, to allow a tracking shot to move between the two!

So whatevs to the haters, this was a solid B+ for me.
posted by chill at 2:31 PM on November 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I found the tea party scene devastating, guessing full well that it was a real child drinking from the cup, presumably the Dudley's daughter. I'm not sure if we were supposed to make that leap or if it was supposed to be a reveal in ep 10. I think more effective the former.
posted by chill at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


The ending definitely whiffed it a little bit (the folksy wistful mandolin music was so misplaced after 9.9 episodes of atmospheric gloom) but honestly, even though it was a bit over the top I was glad to see the remaining Crains getting their shit together and finding some happiness. I can't believe anyone thought for one second that rewriting Jackson's most icon line from the book was a good idea.

Even though the Dudley's stayed away from the house after dark, they were close enough to its corrupting influence for decades that they both seemed to have been driven a little bit mad... the "Happy ghost retirement home" angle was hamfisted, but I could have been sold on Mrs. Dudley wanting to die there are be reunited with Abigail and the baby if there had been a scene with the modern-day Dudleys, now in their dotage, coming up with the plan because the house has finally gotten to them too, or something.

But overall I liked it a lot. I wish there was more creeping dread prestige television being made.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 3:44 PM on June 5


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