Director Mike Flanagan has been a well-established voice amongst the horror community for years. With The Haunting of Hill House, a 10 hour Netflix show based upon Shirley Jackson’s 1953 novel of the same name, Flanagan announces his ascension from Horror Genre Staple to Horror Master. It is my sincere belief that his name will be mentioned in conversation alongside the likes of John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Guillermo Del Toro.
At the core of it, the show is an intense family drama, meticulously constructed to give every character their due. The cast is a who’s who of Flanagan’s past projects and the power of their performances cannot be denied. Their chemistry and the quality of the writing sells them as a family in turmoil. I dare you not to feel something as you watch this family besieged by darkness.
More than just the cast, The Haunting Of Hill House is ingrained with the DNA of Flanagan’s past ventures, such as Oculus‘ time-bending storytelling and Ouija‘s jaw-dropping special effects.
At no time does the show feel unengaging. While it is methodically plotted and dedicates much of its time between big scares developing its characters, there never ceases to be a lapse in tension or dread. It creates drama with camera work and offers a never-ending supply of chills to the most observant of viewers.
In the quiet moments, you may catch a glimpse of a ghostly face in a pane of glass while two characters speak or the unmoving silhouette of a person in the blurred background. These “Where’s Waldo?” style of ghosts are never really acknowledged by anyone in the scene and they are ever present, so much so that I almost want to rewatch the series to find the ones I never caught.
Like the great ghost stories of old, The Haunting of Hill House sinks into your bones like a midnight chill and never leaves. Its must watch tv and a serious contender for the best and scariest horror television show ever produced.