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Netflix horror series "The Haunting Of Hill House"Stay awake longer at night

Hill House is a typical haunted house.

With gloomy rooms, magnificent chandeliers and heavy columns: Gothic-Victorian. Here the floors creak, the doors creak - and when night falls, everyone suddenly lies awake.

Father: "Nelly had a nightmare and Shelly is sleeptalking again."

It's haunted. There is a curse on the house. And one ghost does not come to rest: the "bend-neck lady".

Father: "I know the bend-neck lady is really scary. But that’s all she is, a spill. Now go back to sleep!"

The series "The Haunting Of Hill House" takes this classic haunted story, which is based on the novel of the same name by the American gothic horror author Shirley Jackson from 1959, and she thinks it further, she makes of it: much more! Namely a strong family drama between the past and the present.

Father: "You keep your eyes closed, no matter what. You 'keep them close!"

From the point of view of the five children, who have now grown up, the fate of the traumatized family is gradually revealed, which is suffering from the death of their mother - back then in Hill House.

Son: "What about Mum? Dad !? What about Mum?"

Every child has their own story, their own way of dealing with it. There is e.g. the successful writer Stevie, who wrote down and marketed the horror he experienced as a book (title: "The Haunting Of Hill House"), but doesn't really get on with his siblings anymore.

Stevie: "I can tell you one thing about Hill House that isn’t in the book. All those years there was one thing I never found: a reason."

Or the non-conformist Theodora, who, as a psychologist, treats delusional children: "When I was little I was afraid of a lot of things. I didn't have to be though. They were all in my head. I just didn't know that yet. "

Or Shirley, who works as a taxidermist: "I am ellbow-deep in our sisters jest, pulling out her organs. That’s what happens when a body is autopsied and I have to take it out." And suddenly your own sister is lying on the dissection table. The horror repeats itself!

Subtle effects

The series tells all of this for the most part with subtle horror elements, is more "Shining" than "SAW": Loud shock effects, fast cuts or brutal scenes of violence are rare, instead slow tracking shots, a constantly threatening background boom and the horror of everyday life dominate the shown world. And every now and then the horror breaks in all of a sudden.

It remains to be seen whether what we see is real, supernatural or imagined. The perspective varies. But it is clear that what is shown is always a reflection of the neurotic psyche of the characters and their broken family relationships.

Shirley: "Why the hell would she go to that house? My kids will ask me how she died."

Theodora: "And you tell them!"

Shirley: "Tell them what? That she killed herself?"

The fear, the horror, is in each of us, the series seems to be saying. Topics such as the supernatural or death are sometimes discussed in an almost philosophical way:

Shirley: "I know you are curious - and sad. I am sad, too. So sad I can't even tell you."

Interesting protagonists

Unlike many horror films, the series is really interested in its characters and their inner workings - and is not just out for cheap shockers. In this respect, it is closer to the original 1963 film "The Haunting", which is based on the same story, than its disappointing 1999 remake.

So far, only a few series have dared to approach the horror genre. For good reason, because on several episodes, even seasons, the horror can quickly become boring and predictable. Not so with "The Haunting Of Hill House", although, strictly speaking, you are dealing with a genre mix of horror - the past - and psychodrama - the present. This is exactly how it works. And a good two weeks before Halloween provides a good reason why you could lie awake longer at night.