Hill House – Review of the new Netflix series directed by Mike Flanagan

Mike Flanagan is now to be considered one of the best horror directors today. After his debut in the independent circuit with Absentia …

Mike Flanagan is now to be considered one of the most valid horror directors today. After his debut in the independent circuit with Absentia (2011), the director made his international debut with critical acclaim Oculus (2013). 2016 saw him director of three full-length films: the brilliant thriller Hushthe little horror disappointment Somnia and the great prequel to the bad Ouija (2014), Ouija – The Origins of Evil. His partnership with the “King of Streaming” Netflix has a happy start, thanks to the brilliant adaptation of Gerald’s game by Stephen King (whose sequel to Shining, Doctor Sleeped), which today leads him to direct for the platform The Haunting of Hill House (alone Hill House in Italy), a free serial adaptation of the cult novel of the same name Shirley Jackson.

A little look at the plot

Hill House tells the story on two timelines (1992 and 2018) of the Crain family. In the past, Hugh (Henry Thomas) and Olivia “Liv” Crain (Carla Gugino) live temporarily in the large Hill House with their five children (Steven, Shirley, Theodora and the twins Luke and Eleanor) to arrange it for future buyers. Right from the start, however, the children are witnesses to mysterious events and disturbing visions, which will force them to flee the house after the apparent and mysterious suicide of their mother.

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Twenty years later, the five now adults live disastrous or unsatisfactory lives, tormented by visions of the past and the inexplicable fate of their beloved mother: Steven (Michiel Huisman) is a cynical ghost book writer who made his fortune by putting his experience at Hill House on paper, Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) is a control freak who runs a funeral home with her husband, Theodora (Kate Siegelwife of the director nda) is a child psychologist withdrawn into herself, Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is a perpetually relapsing drug addict and Eleanor (Victoria Pedretti) brings with him the hideous visions of the house in the form of night terrors. When tragedy strikes the family again, the brothers will have to come together and reunite with their father Hugh (Timothy Hutton), excluded from the life of their children who lives with a heavy secret, to finally face their demons and find out what really happened in that damn house over twenty years ago.

Analysis of the work

Haunting Hill is to be considered Flanagan’s magnum opus: in a self-concluding series of just 10 episodes, theThe American director inserts everything he has learned and produced in almost 10 years of activity in the cinema of horror, starting with the sumptuous cast composed of actors from previous films of his filmography (Carla Gugino and Herny Thomas from “Gerald’s Game”, wife Kate Siegel from “Hush”, Elizabeh Reasher from Ouija – The origins of male), but also the methodical and surgical construction of a space of gray and melancholy horror, the skilful editing between past and future, the scenography like Poe and psychedelic images and sounds like Lovecraft (unlikely not to find references to The Topi in the Walls nda) and much more.

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Mike Flanagan takes numerous liberties with the reference work (already adapted for the big screen with the classic of 1963 and with the pathetic remake of 1999) transforming the element of the study of the paranormal present in the book into a family drama à la Hal Ashby with phantasmagoric hues. The first half of the series exhausts each member of the family, their phobias and manias, the mistakes and traumas of the past, seasoning them with gruesome visions between the real and the paranormal. Is what they see real or an image of the mind that “overflows” in today? It is a slow conflagration, that of Hill House, which turns its focus not so much to a construction of fear, as to a skilful increase in the viewer’s pathos, in a dimension of psychological terror and sentimental involvement: more than frightening Hill House makes you cry, thinks about issues such as family union, fraternal relationships and the power of love in the face of life’s adversities. Said this way it may seem dull and not in keeping with a horror story, but for lovers of the genre Hill House is an unmissable series, which highlights the potential of horror in the serial production system. Seeing is believing.