Netflix’s newest horror series is scary, well-written, and filled with many dramatic twists and turns, but the ending is…meh. Too bad I can’t talk about it here.
“The Haunting of Hill House” is a series based on the classic psychological and paranormal thriller “The Haunting” and on the book of the same name. But in this version, the main characters are all siblings.
In 1992, house flippers Hugh and Olivia Crain move into Hill House with the intent to flip it before the end of the summer along with their five children: Stephen, Shirley, Theo, Luke, and Nell. Unfortunately, the whole family experiences hauntings that eventually lead up to the tragic night they lost their mother.
26 years later, the father and the kids have grown up with a lifetime of trauma and unanswered questions from that mysterious, tragic night. When paranormal events start happening after another tragedy, the dysfunctional family is forced to come together again and face the past once and for all.
“The Haunting of Hill House” is praiseworthy for many reasons. The acting and writing are superb. The directing is great. The ending, however…let me explain.
This series is miraculously well-made. A series with these many characters could have failed so easily simply because of the volume of stories to tell. Not to mention the fact that so much is told through flashback. Fortunately, the acting, writing and directing come together to make it all work.
Primarily, “The Haunting of Hill House” is a story one family’s trauma told from the point-of-view of each member and how each family member deals with that trauma badly. Speaking from experience, this show is spot on when capturing these dysfunctional family dynamics and the tension that comes with them.
It works because the characters are so well-written. Each character is believable and identifiably messed up in their own way. Through flashbacks, we see each point-of-view and understand why they think the way they do. The audience understands their misunderstandings with one another, their disappointments, their frustrations, their resignation, and their pain.
Much like in “The Haunting,” the paranormal elements are present but not overwhelmingly so. You do see ghosts and get jump scares. But for the most part, the supernatural events occurring in the show are an underlying stress that eventually balloons into an explosive climax, exactly like a family’s dysfunction.
The parallels are brilliant, thought-provoking, and quite disturbing. This tension is built up to the final climax “The Haunting of Hill House” is leading to when the audience and the characters finally discover what happened on that fateful last night.
The resolution after that climax, however, is problematic. For me, anyway. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but I’ll try my best.
After the climax happens, a certain decision is made that I personally do not agree with. The reason I do not agree with it is that I feel like it is fundamentally foolish and selfish. The series builds up to this climax that has this beautiful message, but the decision made afterward, especially considering what the characters have been through, feels completely irresponsible. Nonetheless, the audience is supposed to accept it just because it is an emotionally satisfying ending.
I am going to write another article to elaborate on what I mean, but until then, take my word for it. The show is great. It’s scary, thought-provoking, and emotionally-satisfying, but depending on your point-of-view, the ending might be a problem for some people.