Netflix’s new adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is far from a familiar version of a well-known tale.
Jackson’s 20th-century horror classic is a case study in mind games; as represented in the 1963 Robert Wise film adaptation The Haunting, it’s more a tale of psychological terror than the supernatural — if indeed there’s anything ghostly at all lurking within the dark, decrepit mansion known as Hill House.
Netflix’s new original TV series, “The Haunting of Hill House,” could also be described that way. It takes the concept and expands it over the course of 10 serialized television episodes. Not only is the show a chilling horror series, but it’s also an emotional story of a family being torn apart, often by the supernatural forces at work against them, but also by their own faults.
Another key element is time — or a lack thereof. Haunted-house stories naturally lend themselves to claustrophobic settings, ideally suited for movies, where audiences can be progressively more traumatized, knowing that freedom is just a couple of hours away.
That’s a major challenge for a horror series like Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Adapted by Mike Flanagan, the writer-director behind movies like Hush and Gerald’s Game, the 10-episode series reimagines Shirley Jackson’s classic horror novel of the same name. But instead of focusing on a paranormal investigator who decides to investigate a haunted home, Flanagan uses the story to tell a sprawling family drama that’s concerned with the lasting impact of grief, loss, and tragedy.