The Haunting of Hill House—Season 1

haunting of hill house season 1 poster episode guide netflix
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

This Is Us meets a horror story

Slow-burn, could have used even more ghosts

haunting of hill house season 1 title card episode guide

I see a red door, and I want it painted black…

The Crains thought they had found a perfect house to fix and sell in the hopes of building their fortune.  Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas), his wife Olivia (Carla Gugino) and their children Steven (Paxton Singleton), Shirley (Lulu Wilson), Theo (Mckenna Grace), and the twins Luke (Julian Hilliard) and Nell (Violet McGraw) discovered horror inside that would change their family forever.  The events shook the family to the core and years later the family is still trying to cope with them.  Nell (Victoria Pedretti) brings Hugh (Timothy Hutton), Steven (Michiel Huisman), Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser), Theo (Kate Siegel), and Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) back together…and forces them to face the horror again.

The Haunting of Hill House—Season 1 is a horror-drama based upon Shirley Jackson’s 1959 classic horror novel.  The story has been adapted multiple times for the screen including The Haunting in 1963 and 1999.  Released on October 12, 2018, the series was created and directed by Mike Flanagan and was released to positive reviews.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 2 open casket kitten

Kittens are precious

I have found a lot of Mike Flanagan’s films interesting.  He’s a new voice in horror and shows a lot of potential (I still think he has a lot of growing to do, but he’s on the right track).  The Haunting of Hill House proves to show even more growth and has me questioning the future of the series.

The story is a great blend of horror and drama.  It is a slow burn, but there are enough questions in each episode to draw you into the next episode (it is a very binge-worthy series).  The family in the present and the past plays out like the popular NBC series This Is Us…with ghosts and horror.  It also has similarity to Flanagan’s Oculus which dealt with a brother-sister relationship and a hidden past.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 3 touch ghost

I hope they use catch-and-release traps for their ghosts…

With the hidden past, the story takes a lot of turns.  Moments where you think something strange is happening, it is explained in a later episode.  It is smartly written and woven together.  While some twists are kind of obvious for fans of horror.  I wasn’t totally shocked by “The Bent-Neck Lady”, but it sets up the idea of later episodes and time being fluid within the series.

The story is aided by a strong cast.  Casting children can be difficult (the younger actors playing the twins struggle a bit), but largely the kid actors are strong.  They are smartly paired with adult actors that are similar in behavior and acting.  The series also has room for “dead” characters to return which means you don’t necessarily have to say goodbye when they do.  Russ Tamblyn (a veteran of the original 1963 version of The Haunting) makes a cameo as a psychiatrist (something he played in Twin Peaks).

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 10 silence lay steadily tea party carla gugino

Everyone loves a tea party!

The story does a great job with the visuals.  Hill House is gothic and dark and filled with creepy ghosts.  While the ghosts are generally underplayed, but there is a lot of potential for future seasons.  The show also plays with colors at points with extremes involving the visions much like a Kubrick vision in things like The Shining.

The Haunting of Hill House—Season 1 is a fun entry into horror television.  Unlike something like American Horror Story which mixes comedy with the horror, The Haunting of Hill House plays more for straight horror.  The season largely wraps up the story, but there is already talk of The Haunting of Hill House—Season 2…the house is still hungry and the good buzz means it could happen.

The Haunting of Hill House—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 1 steven sees a ghost nell victoria pedretti

“Steven Sees a Ghost”

1.1       Steven Sees a Ghost Release Date:  10/12/18

Steven Crain (Michiel Huisman) works as a supernatural writer and debunker of the unknown and recalls being a child (Paxton Singleton) at Hill House.  Nell (Victoria Pedretti) deals with her encounters at Hill House and recalls being young (Violet McGraw) and seeing the Bent-Neck Lady as a child while Nell’s twin Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) battles addition.  Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser) works at a mortuary and remembers how Steven’s book The Haunting of Hill House destroyed the family.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 2 open casket shirley elizabeth reaser

“Open Casket”

1.2       Open Casket Airdate:  10/12/18

Nell is dead and the Crains are dealing with the ramifications.  Shirley and her husband Kevin (Anthony Ruivivar) struggle to keep their business, and Shirley remembers being young (Lulu Wilson) and finding a box of kittens at Hill House which has tragic consequences.  Shirley and Theo (Kate Siegel) argue over Shirley’s decision to host Nell’s funeral and remembers going to the funeral of her mother Olivia (Carla Gugino) with her father Hugh (Henry Thomas).

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 3 touch theo kate siegel


1.3       Touch Airdate:  10/12/18

Theo remembers growing up in Hill House and being susceptible as a child (Mckenna Grace).  A trip into the basement of Hill House by Luke (Julian Hilliard) leads to horror, and Theo makes a big discovery in the hidden cellar.  Theo’s memories lead to clues that can help a child she’s treating and a memory of her mother.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 4 the twin thing luke ghost oliver jackson cohen

“The Twin Thing”

1.4       The Twin Thing Airdate:  10/12/18

Luke recalls his “imaginary” friend Abigail at Hill House and that no one would believe him about her.  Visited by Nell at her death, Luke breaks out of rehab to search for a friend named Joey (Anna Enger) and recalls the horrors he experienced in Hill House.  With nowhere to go, Luke searches for money and remembers the haunting of his past.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 5 the bent neck lady nell victoria pedretti

“The Bent-Neck Lady”

1.5       The Bent-Neck Lady Airdate:  10/12/18

Nell recalls meeting her future husband Arthur (Jordane Christie) and her childhood fear of the Bent-Neck Lady…but when the Bent-Neck Lady returns, tragedy strikes.  With encouragement from her doctor (Russ Tamblyn), Nell decides to recall the events of the last night in house and return to Hill House to face her fears.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 6 two storms timothy hutton victoria pedretti

“Two Storms”

1.6       Two Storms Airdate:  10/12/18

The family has gathered for Nell’s funeral, and as a storm rages outside, the family recalls a storm at Hill House and the night that scared them.  The family questions Hugh (Timothy Hutton) about what they never knew about Nelly and what happened at Hill House.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 7 eulogy body in wall


1.7       Eulogy Airdate:  10/12/18

The storm has revealed a problem with Hill House, and Hugh realizes it could ruin them.  Theo deals with being caught with Kevin and realizes that Shirley won’t trust her again.  The house worker Mr. Dudley (Robert Longstreet) remembers working at Hill House and how he met his wife Mrs. Dudley (Annabeth Gish) and warns Hugh that Hill House could be overwhelming Olivia.  A discovery in the basement could explain some of the happenings in Hill House.  The police question Hugh about what happened in Hill House between when Hugh discovered Olivia’s body and when he reported it police.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 8 witness marks theo kate siegel

“Witness Marks”

1.8       Witness Marks Airdate:  10/12/18

Luke has stolen Theo car and Shirley’s wallet, and Hugh and Steven search for him.  Theo tries to explain her actions to Shirley as they begin to experience strange occurrences.  When Hugh and Steven realize where Luke is headed, Hugh explains the danger he suspects that Hill House could pose for all his family.

haunting of hill house poppy olivia carla gugino catherine parker

“Screaming Meemies”

1.9       Screaming Meemies Airdate:  10/12/18

Olivia recalls discovering she was different from other people and her connection to the supernatural.  Mrs. Dudley tells Olivia how she came to work at Hill House and why she decided to return.  A late night meeting has Olivia encountering a former tenant of Hell House named Poppy Hill (Catherine Parker)…and finds herself slowly descending into madness.

haunting of hill house season 1 episode 10 silence lay steadily

“Silence Lay Steadily”

1.10     Silence Lay Steadily Airdate:  10/12/18

Hill House is hungry and the Crains are its food.  As more is revealed about the Crains final night at Hill House, the Crains face great danger in the locked Red Room.  Secrets will be revealed and decisions will be made…and Hill House might reign supreme!!!

Related Links:

The Haunting (1963)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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