Netflix’s homegrown offerings are a mixed bag at best, so it was with a bit of trepidation that we learned of their plans to adapt Shirley Jackson’s classic story The Haunting of Hill House into a series. Recognised as one of the grandest pillars of the horror fiction temple, Jackson’s story created the template which has moulded every haunted house story since, and inspired The Haunting, one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
We became more interested in the project on learning that Mike Flanagan was attached to direct. Currently working on his big-screen adaptation of Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, Flanagan’s breakout work Absentia nails the slow building tension and sense of place central to Jackson’s novel. As his budgets have grown so have his ambitions, yet Films like Oculus, Hush and Gerald’s Game have all retained some of the indie inventiveness that made him a director to watch.
Flanagan is directing and producing the series, which features two of his past collaborators; Gerald’s Game’s Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas. The new version will follow a group of siblings who grew up among the shadows of Hill House. Now they must return as adults and confront the ghosts of their past.
While the presence of Flanagan has us interested, it’s hard to muster too much enthusiasm. It seems very unlikely that dividing the story up into episodes will allow the series to emulate the creeping, claustrophobic dread of Jackson’s prose.
If it were up to us, we’d be far more interested in a new adaptation of Richard Matheson’s Hell House, itself a tribute to Jackson’s masterwork. The existing film adaptation is atmospheric but flawed, leaving many aspects of the novel unexplored. A fresh pair of hands at the helm could bring out more of the potential of Matheson’s vision. Moreover, the subject matter is far more suited to the bombastic style of Flanagan’s recent work.
The Haunting of Hill House will make its Netflix debut on October 12th 2018. Netflix has also released some official photos, including these: