This modern reimagining of the Shirley Jackson novel follows siblings who, as children, grew up in what would go on to become the most famous haunted house in the country.. Now adults, they are forced back together in the face of tragedy and must finally confront the ghosts of their past. Some of those ghosts still lurk in their minds, while others may actually be stalking the shadows of Hill House. The ensemble cast includes Oscar winner Timothy Hutton, Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas. Mike Flanagan, a veteran of the horror genre, created the series.
Plot: Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.
Director: Mike Flanagan
Aspect Ratio: 1.78.1
Runtime: 10 Episodes, 589 minutes
Roger Ebert Quote: “The Haunting of Hill House contains some of the most unforgettable horror imagery in film or television in years. The best horror film of the year also happens to be one of the best TV shows of 2018.”
“Close to a work of genius.” – Stephen King
This is the very first time I’ve ever given my thoughts on a TV series, thank you Paramount for sending this over! Personally, I’m more critical on television compared to movies because you can easily sit down and watch terrible 90 minute movie and move on, but something like The Haunting of Hill House (like most shows) runs 10 episodes at a total of 589 minutes — it’s an investment. In this case, it’s worth your time.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have guilty pleasure shows that suck us in for season after season, but it’s hard to critique that when you have a bias to begin with. When I first watched this series I was shocked at how good and terrifying the story was as it unfolded until the season finale — it’s a work of art. Now that we are in the horror-watching Halloween-season, watching it a second time was just as scary-good. If you want a quick breakdown of each episode, check out IMDB.
Without spoiling the entire series I would say that the quote (as seen above) from Roger Ebert hits on all cylinders: “The Haunting of Hill House contains some of the most unforgettable horror imagery in film or television in years. The best horror film of the year also happens to be one of the best TV shows of 2018.” There are so many layers to this show and some how, everything works — the story is constantly growing, depth is added to every character as episodes persist, plus it’s scary, chilling and even terrifying at moments. If that’s not enough of a sell, there aren’t any dull episodes and the acting is superb.
Outside of the season finale, if you were to ask me which episodes are my personal favorites I would say The Bent Neck Lady, Two Storms & Steven Sees A Ghost — in that order. The good news for me is that two of those episodes (Episode 1 & Episode 5) are part of the extended Directors Cut, with the third being (Episode 10) Silence Lay Steadily!
What’s the directors cut mean? It means you get more footage that was cut from the show. In this case the cut adds another 12 minutes to the full series. There’s nothing big to note, honestly using the word ‘Directors Cut’ is a little strange. It adds nothing to the story, but more content is a plus… right? Check out the breakdown below.
- Episode 1: Steven Sees A Ghost adds another five minutes to the total runtime.
In Chapter 1 you will see a extended scene with the Crain parents talking about having a hard time sleeping in the new house — they say it’s too quiet, but then you start to hear the house making sounds, which they blame on the pipes. Another extended scene happens again in Chapter 1 when Steven Crain is listening the story for his next book from the woman who feels drops of water on her face and how she sees her husband when she sleeps in their room. Essentially, more details on the story are added.
The last extended scene is between Mrs. Dudley and Young Steven in Chapter 6 when she speaks to him about the light and the dark. Steven’s Mom comes in and defends him with some more dialogue of certainty and uncertainty. Lastly (unseen before), Mrs. Dudley leaves the room and repeats again to Steven with a nod, “In the night, in the dark.”
A scene that is completely new is in Chapter 6 when Steven sees a wreck on the highway on the way home, he then talks to his agent about writing his idea on a new book — there’s no importance at all, it just shows his mindset on adding horror to his stories that aren’t there.
- Episode 5: The Bent Neck Lady adds another three minutes to the total runtime.
In Chapter 3 you get an extended look at the therapy session with Nell. She talks about seeing The Bent Neck Lady more and how it relates to the root of her problem, Hill House. Just a few scenes later you’ll get another extended scene with Nell and Luke in the car on the way to “help Luck get well.” Here you’ll get more dialogue from Nell on how talking to the therapist helps mentally, but she still can’t sleep since her husband died and she’s worried it’s going to happen again.
Finally, once more in Chapter 3 & again in Chapter 4 Nell visits the therapist and the dialogue changes a little here and there. Added sentence, different angles, etc — meh. It adds nothing to the story.
- Episode 10: Silence Lay Steadily adds another four minutes to the total runtime.
In Chapter 3 you get a longer conversation between Shirley and guy at the bar that tried to buy her a drink. Here you will get more flirting and conversation at first, but then you get more dialogue as the guy talks about the two of them cheating on their spouses in a sinister, arrogant way. Again in Chapter 3 Theodora and her girlfriend have a longer-darker conversation about Theo’s past fears, guilt, her sister and how “everything feels wrong.” This scene did feel more uncomfortable from the perspective of Theo — this should have been in the episode since we don’t get as much with that character.
In Chapter 4 Luke speaks to his Mother as he’s in-between life and death. She speaks longer about the beautiful house she fell in love with as a child riding in the car with her Grandmother. She then tries to pull Luke in recalling saving nightmares from a child and how his entire life was hard (like a nightmare) and God shouldn’t allow it. “God is love, but he can’t be” because how can he allow nightmares to be in the minds of children.
That marks the end of Director’s Cut details.
Like I mentioned above, using the word ‘Directors Cut’ is a little strange because this is just the less cleaned up and precise version. It would’ve been nice to see an extended haunt or more unsettled and uneasiness in the house, but there isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, this series is still amazing nevertheless, but that’s the bit on the added portion of the Director’s Cut. Meh.
The Haunting of Hill House is an easy recommendation and must watch during the month October! If you have Netflix and you’ve never watched it… make sure you enjoy this before Halloween hits. If you don’t have Netflix and you’re looking to own the series with extended episodes — you can grab your own copy on Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, October 15th. Beyond that, you can look forward to Season 2 which will be “a new story with all new characters” and will have “no connection” to “Hill House.” They have a tall order to live up to, let’s hope for the best!
Were you a fan of the series? Will you be picking up a copy? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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