Though the streaming platform may be experiencing a difficult time, with a huge loss of subscribers apparently pre-empting the platform’s decision to crack down on password sharing, Netflix is still capable of making a high-quality film. One part of the cinematic culture that the streamer really excels in is horror. And, if there’s one man to give the platform a stamp of horrific approval, then it is Stephen King.
King is the author behind some of our most beloved scary stories. From Carrie, The Shining and Pet Sematary through to Salem’s Lot, Cujo, and so many more. If one man knows a thing or two about scaring the bejesus out of you, then it is Mr Stephen King.
During conversations around the release, Stephen king would label one Netflix show “a work of genius”. The author heaped praise on the now-iconic Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House. The television series was created by Mike Flanagan and based on the 1959 novel of the same name written by Shirley Jackson. The first season consists of ten episodes telling the story of five siblings who grew up in the most famous haunted house in America.
Based in the summer of 1992, the five children and their parents Hugh and Olivia Crain, experience a series of paranormal occurrences and tragic loss. Flipping between the past and the present, the family reunite in 2018, 26 years after the hauntings, and face their “inner demons”.
Reacting to the series, iconic horror author Steven King couldn’t hold back his admiration: “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,” he wrote on social media.
While Jackson’s horror was way more subtle and grotesque, with an ambiguous and amorphous haze surrounding its characters, Flanagan decided to venture into both spatial and psychological horror to add to Jackson’s exploration of the psyche. While Flanagan stuck to the setting and retained a few characters, he shifted the attention to the Crain family and explored their dwindling sanity and emotional disintegration as they grappled with the horrors of the house.
In both the original text and Flanagan’s marvellous interpretation, the House persists as a symbol of horror and insanity. The novel ends on an ambiguous tragedy, while the series, steeped in psychological realism and horror, is a complex exploration of family dynamics, mental health and occult disturbances. Jackson’s monstrous Hill House is all-powering, all-consuming and overwhelming in its presence. But Flanagan’s vision, overridden with optimism, shatters that.
Although he is aware of the House’s psychological significance, he plays with the horrors that live within the isolated mind and ends on a characteristic subversive note of the genre. Like most of his other works, Flanagan does not shy away from providing a hopeful ending that culminates in love and healing, despite the bleakness of the future.
While Jackson’s story weighs down upon us in its claustrophobic glory, the atmospheric horror and despair in Flanagan’s is replaced by the dawn of a new tomorrow, especially in the final episode when the siblings manage to escape the Hill House once and for all, leaving behind their emotionally-ravaging memories.
Stream The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix now!