This is a tale of terror with many shadowy facets. On the surface, it’s the story of a very haunted house. Underneath, it’s a complex examination of family and the things that can tear one apart or bring one together.
The story reimagines the classic 1959 gothic horror novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. In the Netflix version, we jump between 1992 and the present, following five siblings and their now estranged father who spent a fateful summer living in what would become the most famous haunted house in the country. As adults, they confront their shared history with vastly different memories and attitudes, ranging from depression to anger to denial. Reunited by tragedy, they must finally face the past.
Oscar winner Timothy Hutton leads the ensemble cast as the father. The performances by the children playing the youthful versions of the siblings are a shining highlight. While a second season is always possible, it’s not likely. The story is handily told in 10 episodes with a satisfying ending, so this series is likely one and done.
Instead of gore, expect a psychological puzzle and some heartbreak. As the series evolves, the lines between ghosts and the realities of life that haunt us become blurred. There are plenty of jump scares, but in the end, “The Haunting of Hill House” is what good horror should be: a dark portrait of the things that actually keep us awake at night.