Reviews Television 

Review – The Haunting of Hill House

Review - Haunting Hill House

Review – The Haunting of Hill House

Directed by: Mike Flanagan

Written by: Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard

Produced by: Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard

Starring: Carla GuginoHenry Thomas & Oliver Jackson-Cohen

Release Date: October 12th 2018

Being a fan of Mike Flanagan’s other work and having missed this series when it first released, I decided that it was time to go back and review The Haunting of Hill House. I went back to watch the series in preparation for the release of The Haunting of Bly Manor and was extremely let down by this series.

Flanagan is capable of producing great horror, we know this from 2017’s fantastically creepy adaption of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game and 2019’s fantastic Doctor Sleep. Hill House features some of the same cast members as Gerald’s Game in Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas, whom I both really like. Before diving into Hill House for the first time, I thought that this show was going to be tailor made for me, with a brilliant cast and the same subtle but terrifying horror that Flanagan used in Gerald’s Game.

Review - Haunting Hill House
Flanagan is capable of better than this.

However, after watching the first couple of episodes, I was struggling to get into it. Due to the massive amount of hype and praise that this show received I decided to stick with it. By the time I got to episode 6, I was done, but then my girlfriend guilted me into watching that rest of the series because she wanted to see it and she was, “too scared to watch it alone.”

What a huge waste of time that turned out to be.

If you have read any of my other reviews of horror-based media, you will know that I have a love/hate relationship with the genre. There are very few horror movies or shows that I feel indifferent about. I hate lazy, formulaic bad horror and that is exactly what Hill House is.

Every single episode consists of a jump-scare at the start of the episode, then a hard cut either forwards or backwards in the timeline. Then about 15-20 minutes of very poor acting and boring dialogue. This is followed by another cheap jump-scare, usually a woman screaming at an obnoxiously loud volume at the camera. Then we get another hard cut back to the other timeline.

Review - Haunting Hill House
You feel anything? Me neither.

The main issue with this structure, (other than being extremely lazy and repetitive,) is that when the hard cut is made to the other timeline, the audience knows that it is done by an editor and that we are now being asked to focus on a part of the story within the other timeline. However, for the characters within the show it makes absolutely zero sense. For example, two people are having a conversation when something creepy happens. They go to investigate and a screaming woman comes launching towards them or is standing at the edge of a bed or doing basically any other ghost story cliché you can think of. Then the show cuts away to show the characters as children being haunted by a different ghost, but then when we cut back to the present, we never find out how the last jump-scare was resolved. What was the aftermath of that screaming lady at the end of the bed you ask? How was that resolved? How are the character’s mentalities after this happened to them? Who cares?! Say the writers, let’s just move on to the next cheap jump-scare.

The script is extraordinarily lazy and the child actors are horribly bad. This is an issue that I feel that there isn’t really any excuse for anymore after the brilliant child performances in shows like Stranger Things and Season 2 of the Sinner.

Review - Haunting Hill House
Not to worry wee man, you’ll get to be in a much better show in a few year’s time.

If you judge the quality of something based on what it sets out to do versus what it actually does, then The Haunting Of Hill House is the worst show that I have had the displeasure of ever sitting through. The scares are pathetic, the acting is atrocious in places, the script is diabolically cheesy at times, there is hardly any originality present for an, ‘original series,’ and the show is overflowing with clichés.

Not once did a jump-scare actually scare me, because they were all either laughably predicable or they would be totally out of place just for the sake of shock value and would merit a heavy sigh rather than an legit scare. The most egregious, offensively bad example of this was when two characters were having a conversation in a car in episode 6 and a ghost randomly screams from the backseat.

Please do not waste your time with this series. The last few years has had a plethora of brilliance to offer on the small screen and despite what you might have heard from big publications, this show should not be included in that list.

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Check out Dan’s review of a much better Mike Flanagan project in our review for Gerald’s Game here.

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Daniel Boyd

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Daniel is a 26-year-old writer from Glasgow. He loves sci-fi and hates fantasy. He also hates referring to himself in the third person and thinks that bios are dumb.

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