The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House ★★★★½

I am not gone. I am scattered into so many pieces and sprinkled on your life like a new snow.

One of the best mini series of all time. One of the best twists of all time. One of the best jump scares of all time.

The most memorable ghost stories aren't the ones that focus on fear or macabre, but those that focus on sadness and grief. Are we afraid of dying? What we are afraid of more is not being able to talk to those we love and never experiencing anything again. There's too much sadness in that sentiment and the very thought of those we love dying is too much to bear. Because that story spends so much time on its characters, we bond with the Crain family from the very start and we feel for them when bad things happen. We feel sadness when they are overwhelmed with loss. We want them to escape whatever is haunting them.

What makes the series so effective is also that it doesn't only focus on supernatural threats - there's plenty of horrifying things in real world, that carry just as much heartbreak with them as death does. Infidelity, addiction, lies. And unspeakable things - like the realization Theo has while using her gift in the third episode.

Mike Flanagan is one of my favorite horror directors these days. While I don't enjoy the way his work looks - it's too muted - he always brings effective scares, emotions and tremendous cast and I like his habit of casting actors he enjoyed working with in his numerous projects. The cast here is outstanding - featuring star making performances from Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, splendid work from Carla Gugino (how come Flanagan is the only director who gives her the respect she deserves? She should be in more good things) and my personal favorite here, Kate Siegel. The way the plot moves between the past and the present is so well done and the focus on each sibling per episode in the first half of the show is such a good idea - culminating in the fifth episode which is the scariest horror story of the last decade. But the show is the strongest when it focuses on the relationships between the family members and its best episode is the sixth one, which also happens to be a technical marvel, shot in several long takes.

The only flaw for me is the ending, which is too sentimental, but that's a matter of personal taste. I'm eagerly awaiting Friday's release of the next Haunting and I hope that the fact Flanagan directed only one episode of it (I really don't like it when artists do that, it feels like they are abandoning their creations and moving on to different things) won't affect its quality.

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