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The Haunting of Hill House - Season One - Advance Preview - "A Ghost Can Be a Lot of Things"

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Original Synopsis: Explores a group of siblings who, as children, grew up in what would go on to become the most famous haunted house in the country. Now adults, and forced back together in the face of tragedy, the family must finally confront the ghosts of their past, some of which still lurk in their minds while others may actually be stalking the shadows of Hill House.

Destined to give its audience vivid nightmares, The Haunting of Hill House creeps under your skin and latches its arms around your heart. You might start out watching in the dark, but you'll want to turn a light on when you reach the end. And I am referring to the end of each episode.

All ten episodes premiere October 12th on Netflix. As gripping as this show is, make sure to complete your weekend errands before starting it. Mysterious terrors abound in Haunting, and they aren't all of the bloodcurdling variety. The pain these characters live with is something many of us can relate to. This is the story of a divided family drifting apart more and more every day. The Crains' lives were fractured by an event they don't fully understand. Though they were struck by an unseen blow, the scars remain--vivid and familiar.

The story does hop around a bit in time, but it's usually very clear when something is happening. There is a Past Terrible Thing and a Present Terrible Thing. The casts for each time period are different. Sometimes we visit Past events leading up to the First Terrible Thing, and sometimes we visit the aftermath. The same formula applies to the Present. We get glimpses and clues and foreshadowing/backshadowing for the Terrible Things. What makes the show so riveting though is the stories it gives its characters. Yes, there are so many brilliant scary elements that will mess you up in big ways, but they wouldn't be as frightening if you didn't care about what happens to the Crain family.

The young Crain family moves into Hill House in the 1990s to Fixer Upper the place and flip it. Hill House is a character too, full of secrets and beauties and fears. I won't spoil where and what the Crain children are when they grow up, because discovering how they have responded to their childhood is as important to your experience as uncovering what happened in the past. I will say they are perfectly cast, both in past and present. It is straight up eerie how much like an actual family they are in shared characteristics. The adults playing the grown children also echo Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino who play the young versions of the Crain parents. This creates a déjà vu effect that is at once poignant and unsettling. For the first five episodes of the season, we see a different character's perspective on the past and present. Fear not! This is not redundant like the opening of LOST season 2. We are always seeing something new that helps us understand what came before and what comes next better.

If you do speed through The Haunting of Hill House, you'll want to watch it again. Mike Flanagan has created a masterpiece here, an enthralling collage with a myriad of spooky little details hidden about. The cast, adults and children, give moving, transcendent performances. This is an unparalleled ensemble, and the writing does them justice. You might cry. You might scream. You might watch some parts out of the corner of your eye, because the suspense is too painful. But you will most assuredly be haunted by Hill House.

Disclosure: Terrible Thing is a term I use. The show does not. Also, I cannot properly convey how very very scary and sometimes completely disturbing this show is. For your emotional and physical health, watch with a good friend or a good-sized pillow.

The Crain Children at the time of the Past Terrible as pictured in the family photo above:
Left to Right
Shirley (Lulu Wilson), Theo (McKenna Grace), Nell (Violet McGraw), Steven (Paxton Singleton),  and Luke (Julian Hilliard)

The Crain Children at the time of the Present Terrible:
Left to Right
Theo (Kate Siegel), Steven (Michiel Huisman), Nell (Victoria Pedretti), Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser)

P.S. One character pulls out a checkbook, and I was shook to my core in that moment. It wasn't even a scene set in the past!

P.S.S. Yes, this series draws from a story written by Shirley Jackson. The source material is referenced now and then in fun, goosebump-inducing ways.

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