The Haunting of Hill House: Is Netflix series TOO Scary? Or is it too slow?


The Haunting of Hill House is one of the hottest shows on Netflix. Recent stories have people so terrified, they’re passing out. But, some folks think it’s too slow, or not scary enough.

The Haunting of Hill House started as a 1959 novel by the great Shirley Jackson, who also wrote “The Lottery” and “We Have Always Lived In the Castle” (which was recently made into a movie starring Taissa Farmiga). It is widely regarded as one of the best ghost stories ever published, and I would personally agree with that as it’s one of my favorites. The series is not the same story as the book, but there are plenty of book-related Easter Eggs in each episode and the house itself is very much the same on the screen as on the page.

It was made into a well-respected black and white film in 1963, then into a cringe-worthy version in 1999…it was so bad, it was nominated for 5 Razzie Awards. Both films were titled “The Haunting,” so make sure you get the good one if you decide to look it up!

The series was heavily advertised by Netflix starting in September, and the advance buzz was huge. Netflix pushed the scare factor, and claimed the first trailer was “so scary, we had to release it during the daytime.”

Image courtesy of Netflix

The Haunting of Hill House started streaming on Oct. 12, and people immediately started tweeting and posting about it. Stephen King said: “I don’t usually care for this kind of revisionism, but this is great. Close to a work of genius, really. I think Shirley Jackson would approve, but who knows for sure.” That’s pretty high praise coming from King, who wrote about the novel with such passion in his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, that I was inspired to read it for the first time.

A lot of viewers lost their minds, with @RupaulFTompkins posting that the show made him “terror vomit in joyful confusion”, and another Twitter user asking “Who is watching the Haunting of Hill House because I need to talk about it, potentially in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep because I’m now afraid of the dark.”

On the lighter side, @jackygomes tweeted: “Who else peed their pants on THAT episode 8 scene?”, with @SmalltimeJones responding “Episode 8 wrecked my corduroys.” Another user stated that she was so traumatized that “the woman with the bent neck lives in my wardrobe.”

Image courtesy of Netflix

I have to note here that I didn’t see a single tweet indicating that anyone ACTUALLY passed out! But, several people insisted they were having panic attacks, or actually started crying.

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Maddy Lennon, who is one of my fellow writers at 1428 Elm, said that she loved it as well. “I think horror has taken unconventional roots in the last few years, and people often don’t like that. I don’t think the show was scary in a jump scare, gory, way but I think it was scary in different ways. The entire premise of Hill House was about how a ghost can be many different things and I think that is analogous with the horror genre as a whole. Yes, I can agree the show was a little slow-paced at times but I was so immersed in the Crain story that it never bothered me. At its core, Hill House was an intense, honest, often disturbing, exploration of grief.”

Personally, I loved every minute of it. I appreciated the Easter Eggs that were carefully included for fans of the book, such as the cup of stars Nellie finds in episode 5, and the creepy way Mrs. Dudley gave her speech about how the inhabitants of Hill House will be “alone in the dark” after the sun goes down. Even some of the original character names were used, author Shirley Jackson herself was honored by having one of the Crain children named after her.

I also had no problems with the often slow pacing, I love the growing sense of dread you get with a slow burn movie (The Witch is a good example), and I found many of the scenes terrifying. And, this story is so layered! I watched the entire series, then I watch each episode again, taking lots of notes, before writing my recap articles. I want to make sure that I get the sequence of events right, and I often spot things that I missed on my first viewing. Even on the second viewings, I find myself biting my nails and getting creeped out.

So, dear readers, I want to know what you think. Did you find The Haunting of Hill House to be engrossing and scary as hell? Or did you think it was too slow and not scary enough?

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Watching The Haunting of Hill House? Think the Netflix series is simply terrifying? Let the other scary streamers know what you think in the comment section below.