Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
I am so glad that I finally watched this Netflix series. “The Haunting of Hill House” is a fascinating and nearly perfect mix of horror, mystery, and family drama. It tells the story of the Crains, a family, whose lives were forever impacted by the events that took place in their old home, a haunted mansion named Hill House. The plot alternates between two timelines, one following the young Crains as the strange events in Hill House unravel and one following the adult Crains as they have to confront the demons of their past.
The show is captivating, terrifying, heart-wrenching, emotionally moving, and profound and explores themes such as childhood trauma and its influence on adult life, abuse, drug addiction, mental illness, family, isolation, fears, life and death, loss, grief, guilt, secrets, truth, forgiveness, personal growth, and acceptance.
Every aspect of filmmaking is phenomenal, may it be the immersive camerawork (especially those incredible long takes in episode 6), the beautiful set design, the editing and the smooth transitions between the timelines, the music, the tense atmosphere, or the brilliantly written plot full of unexpected and clever twists and turns (for example the ending of episode 5 is mindblowing). I enjoyed the non-linear story structure that hooks you from the beginning with several mysteries, gradually provides you with pieces of new information, and often revisits scenes from different perspectives. I also love how each of the (early) episodes focus on a different family member. All in all, the show is extremely bingeable. You just have to know what happened in the past and what will happen in the present.
The horror mostly relies on the creepy and tense atmosphere, bizarre situations, and psychological horror, but there are also several jump scares, most of them used very effectively (the car jump scare is probably the most memorable). On top of that, the series features some of the most terrifying ghosts I have seen in recent years. I will probably never forget the “Bent-Neck-Lady” and the “Floating Bowler Hat Guy”.
Heart and soul of the show are definitely the characters. The Crains are all flawed, conflicted, and difficult individuals, each of them dealing with their own form of trauma, and maybe you don´t love them from the start (at least the adult versions, the kids are extremely lovable). Still, they are layered, real, and three-dimensional characters and the more you learn about them and understand where they are coming from, the closer they grow to your heart and by the end, you fear and root for every one of them. My favorites are the twins, since they are the most tragic characters and because their bond is so beautiful (“It´s a twin thing”). The acting of both the child cast and the adult cast is outstanding, and it is really impressive how much the kids resemble their older counterparts in both looks and mannerisms.
“The Haunting of Hill House” blew me away. It hooks you with its horror and mystery aspects, but it is the heartfelt and moving story about family, trauma, and personal growth that makes the show so powerful. It is full of heart, depth, and terrifying horror, and in my opinion, it is one of the greatest Netflix originals I have seen so far.