A Review Of The Netflix Series The Haunting Of Hill House

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

Mike Flanagan, known for his excellence in directing horror movies, directs the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House”. The series is based from the book “The Haunting of Hil House” written by Shirley Jackson in 1959. The plot depicts two timelines, one during the present day and the other in 1992, the year when the father and his five children left their mother at the Hil House. The story revolves on how the Hill House haunted the lives of the Crain family from the day they step foot in that haunted house. In the haunting of Hill House, Olivia Crain represents the house’s endless desire to capture the rest of the family. The Hill House has innumerable ways to trap the Crains in its stomach, the red room, one of which is through their mother, Olivia Crain.

The Haunting of Hill house is a story that uses repetitive pattern. In the first five episodes of the series, the bent-neck lady was constantly appearing in front of Nell. Later on it was revealed that it was Nell’s dead body travelling through time. “When Nell dies her soul is consumed by Hill House and trapped there forever, and in that moment, the ghost of Nell flashes back to key moments of significance in her own life and she realizes to her horror that she has always been the Bent-Neck Lady. The bent neck was how her ghost appeared after the violent hanging from the staircase, and the spectre was the form of her mourning.” The appearance of the bent-neck lady in the different parts of the series represents the traumas and guilts that Nell encountered in her life. Because, every time the bent-neck lady shows up, Nell is not in a good mental and/or emotional state.

The Hill House is a metaphor of mental health. The family experienced traumatic events in their lives which is a visual representation of their mental state. There are things that they’re afraid of and dwell on. “Audiences may never know whether what happened in Hill House was real, or merely a series of manifestations brought on by Olivia and Nell’s own dwindling sanity. But that’s exactly the point, because mental health is in itself a long, uncertain battle with no ‘right’ answer. In The Haunting of Hill House, it’s just filled with a lot more ghosts.” 

“Hugh and Olivia initially chalk the kids’ anxieties up to childhood imagination, but Olivia soon falls under the same spell as her kids.” From the beginning of the series Hugh and Olivia made their children believed that spirits and other paranormal events that happen around them were just mere imaginations. They installed in their minds that those events weren’t true that it haunted them for the death of their mother. It led Olivia from confusing her dreams from the reality, this is because of Poppy Hill’s doings. No one knew, except for Hugh and the Dudleys the reason why Olivia died, but, it was soon revealed.

Olivia Crain is a mother and the husband of Hugh Crain. In the series she was an architect, a loving mother and wife to her husband. Olivia and Hugh were flippers, meaning, they buy houses, restore it, and sell it to be able to gain profit for their dream house. However Olivia died early in the story and only appeared during flashbacks and when Hugh thinks as if she was there. Olivia died because of the Hill House’s unexplained abilities. Those who live near the house believed that it was horror and no one dared to step a foot in it during the close of the day. The house convinced the mother that she has to kill her twins in order to save them from death. The Hill house has a magical power that can transform itself depending on the person. The family were hallucinating different appearances from the house, because it is one of the house’s tricks in order to be loved by the family. It wants the family to adapt and live there forever.

As the story goes on, it is evident that it was Poppy Hill who was behind the confusion of Olivia. Poppy, the medically-insane wife of the owner of the house deceived Olivia to kill her twins in order to save them from dying. She confused her on the reality and her dreams. Soon, Olivia killed herself believing that she will wake up from her dream. As said in the movie, Poppy Hill came from an asylum where he met her husband, Mr. Hill. Poppy killed her children because she doesn’t want to see them suffer. They were trapping the Crain because once you entered the house your soul is already its next meal. The Crains have been the house’s target ever since they moved in. They were unconsciously being eaten by the house. “Digesting the family takes the form of getting inside their head and slowly brainwashing them, like what happened to Olivia Crain.” Moving out from the house didn’t stop it from taking down its meal.

Looking at the difference between the colour use displayed in the scenes, it exhibits different meanings. The colour in the scenes from the past were warmer, than compared to the present which the colour hues is cold. The adult Crains don’t have much colour and looks pale and tired while the younger Crains are more lively and looks more energetic. There is more contrast and the colours are more distinct form the scenes in the past. The colour in the present seems empty and feels like there is nothing. The reason why the colours are like these is because ‘The house is meant to be seductive, tantalizing, and inescapable — it wants to keep its inhabitants there. Hence, it presents itself as warm, inviting, and beautiful.” This is also tied up on why Olivia wanted to kill her children. She wanted to bring them back to the inviting colours of the house. It is all part of the house’s deceiving tricks. “The illusion is all part of the house’s seduction: The longer you stay there, the more chance you have of losing your mind, dying, and being stuck in that house for eternity. It also gives context to Olivia’s desire to kill her children in order to “wake” them from their painful lives. She thinks that if she “wakes” them, they’ll return to these warmly lit, inviting lives free from grief and pain — but we know that’s not the case. Even if we see it with our own eyes.” 

The ghosts in the series aren’t the usual ghosts from any other movies in which they are souls from the haunted past that seeks revenge or needs help in order to free themselves. According to Abram’s (2018) interview with Mike Flanagan, the director of the series “We came into this with the philosophy that there’s nothing more boring than a normal “ghost.” For us, the ghosts that were the most interesting were the ones that we create in ourselves, throughout our lives. We needed the characters to inform and create their own monsters, or else it’s hard to care about what would happen to them.”. These are ghosts that represents the problems in the lives of the characters. The Crains were still the Hill House’s prey, there is no escape no matter how hard they try. Steve wouldn’t accept the reality that his family were lunatics; Shirley being constantly reminded of the man she slept with; Theo not being able to feel and escape from her supernatural abilities; Luke being a drug addict and; Nell who was being followed by the bent-neck lady. “These kinds of ghosts are warnings, representing fear, or guilt, or a painful memory, and it’s ambiguous whether they’re the result of Hill House’s influence on the Crains or whether they’re hallucinations springing from someone’s fragile mental state.” These situations represent the process in which the house are getting inside the heads of the Crains. And that the house will not stop until the Crains will stay in there forever.

Hugh sacrificed himself in order to save his children from being trapped with Olivia in the red room. “He promises to spend “forever” with her, which leads to Hugh taking his own life, leaving him haunting Hill House with Olivia and their daughter Nell” (Mitchell, 2018). When Hugh joined Nell and his wife in the red room, the look on Olivia’s face showed dissatisfaction. “He had just revealed to Steve that he died to save Luke by appeasing his deceased wife, and now he’s off to join her and Nell. While this seems bittersweet, Olivia’s deviously empty glare says otherwise.” Her eyes were empty as if she was wanting for something more.. All she wanted was to keep her children in the Red room forever, because for Olivia the Hill House is their forever home.

The Haunting of Hill House is filled with mind-twisting events that requires a skill of observation and interest to be able to fully understand its meaning. Through analysis and qualitative research, the non obvious occurrences were shown and used for further study about the story of The Haunting of Hill House. Olivia Crain is not yet satisfied of Hugh sacrificing for their children. After all, the first dream of the Crain family was to live together in their forever house, and it turns out that the Hill House is their forever house. As said by Shirley Jackson in the series “Journeys end in lovers meeting”, which also implies to the idea that the story of the Haunting of Hill House hasn’t ended yet since the family hasn’t met yet in their forever house.


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  • Vargas, A. (2018, December). These 5 Theories About ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ Ending Will Chill You To The Bone. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from https://www.bustle.com/p/these-the-haunting-of-hill-house-ending-theories-will-make-you-lose-sleep-at-night-13150445


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