Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House: An Annoying Reminder to Listen to Your Damn Kids…
…when they tell you there’s creepy stuff happening.
Haunting of Hill House is unequal parts creepy and annoying.
Yes, I’m late. I know this movie came out last Halloween season but I take my time watching stuff and I finally binged Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House which is, you guessed it, about a family that moves into a house (a house that could NOT look more haunted) only to discover that it’s haunted!
Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts! No, there’s no shortage of ghosts in this one, and the cinematography and mood of the film is chilling to say the least. Pale, azure tinted spirits float in the periphery throughout the entire series allowing viewers to play “Where’s Waldo” with their TV screens and sometimes, ghost jump straight out at people but then they just shake their heads and go “that was weird, I must have eaten some bad shellfish last night.”
Ahhh…here were are again, another barely creepy ghost story shot with a blue filter and rife with plenty of jump scares and a bunch of gaslighting nonbelievers who have no reason to be nonbelievers. What do I mean by this? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a big part of all horror films is this layer of what I call groundless denial where Person A lives in a creepy, clearly haunted place but they are COMPLETELY against believing Person B when they try to warn Person A that something scary is going on.
We’ve all seen it before. A child is crying about the monster in the closet on a dark and stormy night. Mom rushes into the child’s bedroom when she hears her child’s chilling scream. The kid is as pale as sheet and tells their mom that there’s a man with rotten flesh dancing a jig in the closet. Mom gets up and checks the closet. There’s a cheap jump scare where a stuffed bear topples down from the top shelf. Oh son, it wasn’t a monster, but Mr. Stuffies! See son? You’re just a dumb kid who can’t tell the difference between a stuffed animal and a man sized ghoul! Mom tucks child back in and tells them everything’s fine. Mom leaves, the jig dancing starts again, child is scarred for life.
Why must we go through this dog and pony show in these movies? And The Haunting of Hill House is, alas, no exception. In fact, it might be the MVP of this groundless denial thing.
The five kids are a mixed bag: a pseudo-psychic, a precocious budding photographer, adorable boy and girl twins, and an older brother who gets off easy in the whole spotting ghosts on a daily basis thing. With the exception of the older boy, Steven, the rest of the kids experience a literal buttload of ghost sightings, and save for the twins, none of them articulate exactly what happens to their parents. They just scream and have a generic fearful reaction to things like kittens coming back from the dead and opening their mouths to let huge blue bugs crawl out (“those kittens were sick, honey”, says the clueless dullard of a parent). The parents literally smile and nod and when Luke, the super cute bespectacled and sensitive darling of the show and his uber adorable twin sister Nell literally tell their parents that they’re being dogged by ferocious ghosts, the parents write it off as silly childish imaginings.
What in the entire fuck? Why don’t parents listen when their kids tell them that something scary is terrorizing them so badly that they can’t function? I’m beginning to think these clueless parents should get in trouble for child endangerment, and I definitely don’t enjoy watching kids’ concerns be ignored by the very people who are supposed to protect them. I was completely preoccupied throughout the entire series by my annoyance with the fact that no one ever listens to their kids in these movies!
Otherwise, the show was a snore, mostly. It’s filled with lots of drawn out melodramatic monologues and time jumps that expose us to the lame self-involved lives of the adults who are still reeling from what amounts to about two months that they spent in Hill House as children. These horror movie writers need to get better at creating an engaging, engrossing plot rather than writing unrealistic characters who are literally so stupid and unobservant that you’re rooting for the ghost to put them out of their misery. What’s worse, people raved about this show, I literally read that people were “so scared they vomited”. Those people are the types who have never watched a scary movie in their lives, and those types of people should never be listened to when gauging the efficacy of a horror series.
So what I took from The Haunting of Hill House is that you should listen to your kid. If they say there’s a ghost under their bed, if they say that there’s a strange girl in the woods–believe them–don’t tell them it’s an imaginary friend. If it turns out that they really were imagining things, oh well, better safe than sorry. If these movie parents listened to their movie kids the first time they tell them something’s up, if they would move out of the creepy as fuck house immediately on the off chance their kid knows a ghost when they see one, there’d be a lot less ghost related deaths.
…And a lot fewer frustratingly bad, pseudo-scary movies.