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  1. #1
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Default The Haunting of Hill House

    ... Aired on Netflix October 2018

    Discussion of the show itself (not the personality types threads, which is here)....


    I watched two episodes of this way back in November, then got distracted. Well, I ended up watching episodes 3-5 last night (yeah, I was watching The Bent-Neck Lady at 2am by myself in the dark, lol), then decided to go back and rewatch the first two episodes. So that was an extra two hours to rewatch, but I was rewarded heavily because the first episode in particular was much easier to understand once you've been through more episodes and know who the characters are. (it's kind of a problem when you have five siblings and two parents, have to sync them up with their younger selves, and then also keep track of the secondary cast). Anyway, there's a ton of stuff in episode 1 that is dealt with by the end of episode 5.

    This is probably one of the better Netflix offerings out there and I'd also say one of Mike Flanagan's best works so far.... he's done a few so-so things, and then a few decent things, and this might surpass Oculus and Gerald's Game. There's a similarity in setup to Stephen King's "IT" in terms of playing off a parallel series of events 30 years in the past, that we've yet to understand, and it only unfolds in parallel with the current timeline.

    For mapping, each of the first five episodes seems to focus on one of the siblings in order of age (oldest to youngest), to give us the core of their personality / life struggles all impacted by the loss of their mother back at Hill House 30 years prior -- something their dad has never come clean with them about. It has impacted each of them in very different ways. (Luke, for example, uses drugs to avoid dealing with what he's experienced, and bounces from one rehab place to another, and at this point the siblings are pretty much done with helping him... although they also still are torn, because he's their brother.)

    Episode 6 deals with the aftermath of the culmination of events over the first five episodes, when the remainder of the family reunites over not-so-great circumstances and Dad finally starts to share a bit of what he was protecting them from.

    Episode 5 I think is perhaps the "scariest" since in also involves night terrors and a recurring vision by one of the siblings throughout the series, although there's some crazy stuff throughout. (I don't recall the last time I regularly watched a series and would blurt out expletives in astonishment throughout.) I was really unsettled until I figured out what was going on (about 10-15 minutes before the end... it all clicked for me), but it didn't make it any less powerful and it's one of the most powerful moments in the series so far.

    I think they've done a really great job with creating distinct real-feeling characters who are still siblings but having to work through each other's shit so to speak. It's no wonder everything is hitting the fan in Episode 6. They're each trying to cope with life and maintain their bonds with each other, but the baggage is also very very heavy for each. I think this is why the series is so strong and ironically why it's comparable to King's works -- it's really about psychological / life drama of the characters that is resonating with the supernatural elements, it's not just about the supernatural.

    I'm really hoping Flanagan sticks the landing, with four episodes of my viewing to go. The first six are just engrossing and the kind of thing I have no problems bingeing.

    Side note trivia: Katie Siegel, who plays adult Theodora in the series, is also Flannagan's wife and writing partner and has been in some of his other films. Also, boy, Timothy Hutton got old. I still remember watching him in Ordinary People and Taps (where he was 20-21)... now he's almost 60.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
    "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone." ~ "Six Feet Under"

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Finished it earlier today.

    My overall assessment is that it's very much worth a watch (there are some really excellent moments in the series), but the last ten minutes it kind of drops the ball by not remaining true to the tone of source material and the earlier complexity of the series. It feels like it's trying to become "This is Us: Hill House" or something. Again, it's more of a matter of nuance of tone and it could have been tweaked to retain more integrity.

    I hate even complaining about it, because of the excellence of the season as a whole, especially the middle (5-7) and then episode 9. I wish it would have retained more of itself coming into the final minutes.

    minor gripes:

    - I don't like Anabelle Gish, I never have. She's always felt a little stiff to me, not top tier, ever since I first saw her in X-Files seasons 8 and 9. So I kind of tolerated her here, even when they totally lifted lines from the book to give her (about the cup of stars, which didn't seem to fit the character), and even when she's supposed to be a religious fundamentalist who refers to "The Revelation of John" as "Revelations" -- ugh. She's a slight bit of the problem with the ending too (the actor who played her husband actually gives a pretty great story when down in the basement talking to Hugh, but Gish herself is a weaker actor in the series).

    - Changing the words of the book (for an "adaptation") in a way that undermines the book, which I'm not sure Jackson would have approved.

    - the before-mentioned shift into a cheerier tone, when it should have been more of a mottled mix at best at the end. They pulled it off with Olivia, but it didn't quite work at the end of the series.


    Still:

    There's some supernatural elements here, but they're no more important than the psychological horrific elements of dealing with human existence and grappling with mortality. Just some really insightful dialogue that happened within this series, and what happens when there are secrets and tragedy within a family that is covered up in an effort to protect and thus never dealt with... it just eats everyone out from the inside. So much of the external horror is really just reverberating with the internal horrors each character has grappled with their whole lives.

    This was one of those series where I wanted to rush to the end but hated getting to the end, because I won't see the characters any more.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
    "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone." ~ "Six Feet Under"

  3. #3
    Senior Member Deprecator's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading the book and saw both of the movies, and so I took an interest in the show after I saw this thread. In the first episode I appreciated the direct quotes from the book, and I also found the lesbian encounter to be rather intriguing. However, outside of these positive notes, I felt completely lost with the story as a whole and in addition to this I also don't really care for children. I tried watching the second episode but again, giving children a constant spotlight makes me disinterested, and this might also explain why I wasn't able to get into Stranger Things.

    As a person who liked the book and who loves horror I really wanted to like this show, but in terms of the genre I guess I'll have to stick to The Purge and select seasons of AHS instead. Perhaps I might be able to retain most of the core components of the story while "skipping all the kids scenes", and so who knows? Maybe I'll try and give it another go sometime in the future.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deprecator View Post
    I enjoyed reading the book and saw both of the movies, and so I took an interest in the show after I saw this thread. In the first episode I appreciated the direct quotes from the book, and I also found the lesbian encounter to be rather intriguing. However, outside of these positive notes, I felt completely lost with the story as a whole and in addition to this I also don't really care for children. I tried watching the second episode but again, giving children a constant spotlight makes me disinterested, and this might also explain why I wasn't able to get into Stranger Things.

    As a person who liked the book and who loves horror I really wanted to like this show, but in terms of the genre I guess I'll have to stick to The Purge and select seasons of AHS instead. Perhaps I might be able to retain most of the core components of the story while "skipping all the kids scenes", and so who knows? Maybe I'll try and give it another go sometime in the future.
    It's an adaptation, not a strict retelling. (I'm currently working through the book.) Some adaptations are more thematic than literal, others more directly adhere to source material.

    What's up with the dislike of children in terms of horror? Horror is based on underlying fears/insecurities, and those things source from our childhood -- they aren't random fears that crop up necessarily as adults, some are generated by our childhood anxieties and childhood traumas that are not properly healed. Every adult still includes the child they once were (for good or bad) inside of them. It's not an uncommon connection in drama and horror, to see callbacks to the children the adults once were and what is driving their behavior as adults. In good works in any genre, learning something about the child tells me something about the adult as well.

    I didn't get into Stranger Things as much as some because I felt like a lot of it was just a hodgepodge of ideas taken from other materials, dipped in a fake-chocolate coating of 80's nostalgia, and thus was supposed to be labeled as "excellent." It's not bad, but it's not great either -- although I think second-season the series found more of its own voice and I am interested to see what they do with the third.

    I dunno if I would label The Purge as "horror," it seems more like a focus on the "violence" to me-- externalized fear and commentary on social mismanagement. I've seen the first one and will probably see the others if I'm bored one day, just to say I've seen them. AHS is pretty hit or miss, I've seen everything except for about half of Season 5 (which I am still trying to push through, but I get distracted). A few seasons are really good, the rest are less so. Some of the imagery is great.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
    "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone." ~ "Six Feet Under"

  5. #5
    I'm too sad for pants. Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I didn't realize it was done by the same guy who did Oculus, but I do remember thinking the storyline was like 2 parts Oculus/2 parts Flatliners/2 parts original story and maybe 2 parts something new and kinda gripping. I'm not a fan of horror but I really like a good ghost story (like The Others) and I really enjoyed this series. I found myself repeatedly rewatching earlier episodes before finishing too, just to savor what was going on before finishing the last episode.

    The series does deviate from the book significantly. I've been meaning to read a few other stories from that author, to see if Flanagan merged elements from her other works (although I can't remember just now why I suspected that). The original black and white movie, IIRC, follows the book rather closely.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Yeah I am expecting to enjoy the book on different grounds than the series. I think my biggest issue with it was the ending, which alters the book take-away too radically....it just bugged me.

    Flanagan's got a decent body of work out now. At worst, he puts out something average, and sometimes he has done really good stuff.

    This series is definitely one with rewatch value, due to the intricate texture + its dramatic chops. The Bent-Neck Lady will haunt me for some time.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
    "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone." ~ "Six Feet Under"

  7. #7
    Senior Member Deprecator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Totenkindly View Post
    It's an adaptation, not a strict retelling. (I'm currently working through the book.) Some adaptations are more thematic than literal, others more directly adhere to source material.

    What's up with the dislike of children in terms of horror? Horror is based on underlying fears/insecurities, and those things source from our childhood -- they aren't random fears that crop up necessarily as adults, some are generated by our childhood anxieties and childhood traumas that are not properly healed. Every adult still includes the child they once were (for good or bad) inside of them. It's not an uncommon connection in drama and horror, to see callbacks to the children the adults once were and what is driving their behavior as adults. In good works in any genre, learning something about the child tells me something about the adult as well.
    I don't think it's a dislike of children in terms of horror so much as it's a dislike of children in general. So not only do I not like kids, but giving them super powers and then having them impress other kids with them is just corny to the point where I certainly am not able to derive any sort of entertainment value from the viewing (as was the case with Ender's game and Stranger things). To be fair though, the children in GoT didn't bother me so maybe I just didn't like the show, and then tried citing the kids as a reason when trying to place my finger on why that might be the case. But then again, the children in GoT very quickly started behaving and acting like adults, so idk.

    In any event, today I would freely admit that my biggest fears/ insecurities have to do with my attraction to women (which might be why I found Lucifer so funny). Do you really think that such a fear could be readily traced back to my childhood, or that this fear could be better understood by some flashback to an event that took place when I was younger?

    Quote Originally Posted by Totenkindly View Post
    I dunno if I would label The Purge as "horror," it seems more like a focus on the "violence" to me-- externalized fear and commentary on social mismanagement. I've seen the first one and will probably see the others if I'm bored one day, just to say I've seen them. AHS is pretty hit or miss, I've seen everything except for about half of Season 5 (which I am still trying to push through, but I get distracted). A few seasons are really good, the rest are less so. Some of the imagery is great.
    I was referring to the Purge TV show, which compared to the movies had a lot more time to develop the characters and delve deeper into their motivations for violence. Intertwined in the mix there just happened to be a very intriguing lesbian dynamic going on, thus the show really got to peek my interest. Plus I found some of the back stories interesting. For an example, I can relate to wanting to go on a date, wanting the date to go well if the date happens, and then feeling disgruntled if for whatever reason that wasn't the case. While I cannot relate to wanting to engage in violence as a result of this disgruntlement, I can still appreciate the exaggerated/ hyperbolic reaction from the characters who are given the legal right to disregard any semblance of inhibition and then lash out in whatever manner they see fit.

    Also I don't know if I'd label the Haunting of Hill House book as "horror." Considering my emotional response to the ending I would have called it a tragedy in which the characters just happened to come together as the result of a supernatural event. As far as horror shows I've enjoyed I give mad props to Fear itself, Masters of Horror, The Purge, AHS... heck, I even thought season 1 True Detective was amazing due to some of its horror-like components. Children or not, for whatever reason these shows immediately captured my interest while HoHH did not.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deprecator View Post
    I don't think it's a dislike of children in terms of horror so much as it's a dislike of children in general. So not only do I not like kids, but giving them super powers and then having them impress other kids with them is just corny to the point where I certainly am not able to derive any sort of entertainment value from the viewing (as was the case with Ender's game and Stranger things). To be fair though, the children in GoT didn't bother me so maybe I just didn't like the show, and then tried citing the kids as a reason when trying to place my finger on why that might be the case. But then again, the children in GoT very quickly started behaving and acting like adults, so idk.
    I didn't read Ender's Game but I saw the film.

    Precocious children isn't a literary thing, it actually happens all the time with parents pushing their kids to excel, getting them in all the clubs and exposed to lots of experiences, forcing them to work hard. There are some crazy-talented, crazy smart kids out there (heck, look at the olympics, the female gymnast peak is in the mid-teens). So fictional works that play into that don't feel far-fetched, although I guess maybe there's an overabundance of it in the last 15-20 years due to the Young Adult market driving it. Some of that market is crap, but it doesn't mean some decent stuff doesn't occasionally come through. Also, a standard "human" plot is the coming of age scenario -- it's an important one.

    I think in the film Ender's Game, the biggest thing about Ender's youth was that it left him not quite cynical enough (due to being raised in a vacuum where he was pushed to excel) to realize what was happening and how he was being manipulated (even if some people considered it to be for good cause) until after the fact. It was a gut punch, to be honest.

    In any event, today I would freely admit that my biggest fears/ insecurities have to do with my attraction to women (which might be why I found Lucifer so funny). Do you really think that such a fear could be readily traced back to my childhood, or that this fear could be better understood by some flashback to an event that took place when I was younger?
    I wouldn't know for you in particular since I know nothing about your childhood. However, it would be bizarre if there was no influence. We learn through experience and our reactions to experiences chart our future. So who knows? It wouldn't mean there is nothing else involved.

    I was referring to the Purge TV show, which compared to the movies had a lot more time to develop the characters and delve deeper into their motivations for violence.
    What network is that on? USA or something? (I hadn't run across it yet.)

    Intertwined in the mix there just happened to be a very intriguing lesbian dynamic going on, thus the show really got to peek my interest. Plus I found some of the back stories interesting. For an example, I can relate to wanting to go on a date, wanting the date to go well if the date happens, and then feeling disgruntled if for whatever reason that wasn't the case. While I cannot relate to wanting to engage in violence as a result of this disgruntlement, I can still appreciate the exaggerated/ hyperbolic reaction from the characters who are given the legal right to disregard any semblance of inhibition and then lash out in whatever manner they see fit.
    Like I mentioned about the films, it sounds like "externalized" reactions -- it is basically externalizing feelings into physical action, so it's made manifest, rather than dealing with the psychological ambiguity of it. Not really critiquing it, just categorizing it.

    Also I don't know if I'd label the Haunting of Hill House book as "horror." Considering my emotional response to the ending I would have called it a tragedy in which the characters just happened to come together as the result of a supernatural event. As far as horror shows I've enjoyed I give mad props to Fear itself, Masters of Horror, The Purge, AHS... heck, I even thought season 1 True Detective was amazing due to some of its horror-like components. Children or not, for whatever reason these shows immediately captured my interest while HoHH did not.
    I would label HoHH as "psychological/family horror," as it really didn't focus on the ghosts much or the workings of the house much aside from maybe the Bent-Neck Lady. Everything was more about the IMPACT of the house on the inhabitants, the house was more of a setting than the focus. It's psychological horror and psychological drama.

    What'd you think of Hereditary? Did that feel like any more of "horror" to you? Just curious.

    Yeah, there was a huge lovecraftian influence on season 1 of TD.

    One of my favorite high-fantasy reads was Donaldson's 1st and 2nd "Covenant" series (it came out in the 70's and 80's). I was only a kid at the time. But the horror elements creeped me out -- like the whole Sarangrave Flats sequence and "Only I lived to tell the tale" motif. It's some of craziest horror-like elements I had seen in a high-story at the time. [Well, maybe I'd toss Moorcock's Elric stuff in there, except it wasn't really written in a way to be scary.] Although my favorite stuff from Tolkien also tended to be involve the creepy stuff (like the ringwraiths or Shelob, etc.)
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
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  9. #9
    I'm too sad for pants. Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Season 2 is going to be The Turn Of The Screw!!

    I'm ridiculously excited to see what Flanagan does with it. I've long thought it would make an excellent movie, but that it would be difficult to translate the creepiness to screen. But Flanagan will likely do an amazing job.
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    I'm too sad for pants. Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Anyone else watching The Haunting of Bly Manor? It's season 2, based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw.

    It had a slow start. After a couple of episodes I was a bit disappointed - though not especially surprised, since I've always thought Turn of the Screw would be exceptionally difficult to adapt to screen. The most haunting aspects of the story are entirely about perception. There's never tangible proof something (supernatural) is going on, and yet it's impossible not to feel certain (right along with the protagonist) that something is. For example, with human eyesight, the only area that's really in focus is a circle in the center of our vision - and so, in reading the book, it's easier to vicariously experience all the things the main character sees out of the corner of her eye. While Flanagan is pretty amazing, and there are shots of someone in the foreground while something out of focus in the background moves a little bit - being a passive audience to the book is still much creepier, because you can never be certain there was something there (even though there's also a maddening kind of certsinty-that-can't-be-proven that there was).

    So anyway, I knew Flanagan would have to deviate from the book. And the first couple episodes felt like it might flop. But then by the 4th episode things really pick up. He's added a lot of things (necessary, because there's not enough in the book to last 8-10 episodes), but I'm really surprised by how much he was able to keep and I'm surprised at how well he's been able to adapt it to screen. I'm halfway through the 6th episode and now I like it as much (if not more) than season 1.

    It's pretty well cast, bringing back several actors from season 1. I really like Henry Thomas and Rohul Kohli; the latter is charismatic, adds rapport, and makes the first few episodes move less slowly. I think Rebecca Jessel and Peter Quint could have been cast better, but they're okay.

    Episode 6:
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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