The Haunting of Hill House has some seriously scary settings / Picture Credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix
The Haunting of Hill House has some seriously scary settings / Picture Credit: Steve Dietl/Netflix

Before The Haunting of Bly Manor, newly on Netflix this year, there was The Haunting of Hill House. Both shows share a small connection, but The Haunting of Hill House’s inspiration came from the book of the same name, written by Shirley Jackson in 1959.

The plots

In the book, a character called Dr. Montague learns about Hill House and the rumours surrounding its unnatural existence. He sends out letters to attempt to get people to Hill House and get into the mystery of the peculiar residence…

The owner of Hill House insists Montague must take a member of her family with him, so her nephew Luke joins the Doctor on his mission to scan the building for oddities.

The letters Montague sends out are replied to by two women, Theodora, and Eleanor. So in all, there are four in attendance for the doctor’s experiment.

Once acquainted and somewhat familiar with the house, that is when the massive mansion shows its true colours… Doors slamming, scraping is heard on the walls, and there’s a major cold spot showering the doorway to one of the bedrooms – Hill House wakes up.

As for the Netflix original series? Its vastly different.

You can undoubtedly tell the story in the show is vastly different to the book; and that the inspiration for the show was indeed Jackson’s novel as the atmosphere is very similar in both.

The Crain family are introduced as two parents who work as renovators, and five children each with their own respective personalities. Living in the homes they renovate until work is complete, the Crains move to Hill House after picking up a job there.

The Crain family after a disturbing night / Picture credit: Netflix
The Crain family after a disturbing night / Picture credit: Netflix

Perhaps one of the only similarities to the book (aside from the names chosen for some of the siblings), is that once the Crain family settle in and the parents begin to make renovations, the hauntings begin.

The show also differs from the book as the narrative in the show switches from past (when the family is in Hill House and the siblings are children), to the present (the siblings are all adults now).

Is one better than the other?

Actually, no.

The book is exceptionally well-written; the writing flows smoothly and there isn’t a moment where you aren’t interested in whats going on – even if it isn’t a frightening event.

The contrast between Theodora (or Theo) and Eleanor is wonderful, as Theo is rather outgoing and lively, whilst Eleanor stays in her comfort zone – Theo makes it her mission to make Eleanor a happier her.

Jackson’s writing builds such a stunning atmosphere that, even with the horrors occurring amongst the pages, they way they are presented and the majesty of the words is truly compelling.

The show is no different in the sense that it is captivating, beautifully written and the shots and lighting used makes it one of the best shows on Netflix, and even on any other streaming service or regular television.

With there being five siblings, there is obviously going to be heads butting. Despite this, the siblings always look out for each other and twins Eleanor or ‘Nelly’ (Victoria Pedretti) and Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) share a special connection, despite Luke’s drug issues and multiple stints in rehab.

Each sibling is so unique and has their own very distinct personality traits – as do the characters within the book. In the show, however, Theo (Kate Siegel) even has a subtle superpower – she can sense the bad that someone has done in their life, their deepest shame…

Theodora learning an unsettling truth / Picture credit: Netflix
Theodora learning an unsettling truth / Picture credit: Netflix

Both the book and the show exercise horror, love, family, and loss – it is truly beautiful.

The show does this especially well, as they have dealt with tragedy their whole lives. Still, we see each of them struggle with their own demons and battle their collective monsters – all as a result of living in Hill House.

What about the horror aspect?

With the book, the looming sense of fear and thinking that something will happen on the next page is always present – which is extremely important for a book to do – as it obviously has no visual elements.

The novel really does dig into your skin, even with the events that may not be so scary, the book still drives that sense of fear into you and it’s absolutely amazing!

The show, of course, is able to show you these horrors and add music, lighting, and more into the mix – making the show truly terrifying.

The perfect camera angles and shots, casting, set design; everything down to the wardrobe and even the weather is utterly flawless. Each episode glistens with excellence and definitely sets the bar for horror in a TV setting.

Elizabeth Reaser in The Haunting of Hill House / Photo Credit: Netflix
Elizabeth Reaser in The Haunting of Hill House / Photo Credit: Netflix

The twists we experience along the way are also fantastic, as sometimes we know things that the characters don’t, and other times we are shocked right alongside them and the combination of both makes the show stand out with the way it does this.

Despite the plot being so different, the show really nailed what you would expect Hill House to be – daunting and threatening.

Both versions of The Haunting of Hill House are phenomenal, and definitely worth your time.

Written by Melissa, who you can follow on Twitter @melissajournal

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