SÉAMAS O’REILLY

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE MEMING OF LIFE -

Hor­ror has been an un­der-utilised genre for Net­flix, but the stream­ing gi­ant be­came some­thing of a scream­ing gi­ant (deal with it) with this week’s pre­miere of its first cast-iron hor­ror mega-hit.

The Haunt­ing of Hill House may sound like the start of a tongue twister by the two neck-stretch­ing lads on Bosco, but it’s ac­tu­ally one of the most ter­ri­fy­ing things ever shown on TV, (co­in­ci­den­tally, it ranks right be­low those two neck-stretch­ing lads on Bosco).

The story is well-worn; a creepy old house is revisited by its for­mer oc­cu­pants, a fam­ily who must con­front their emo­tional, and per­haps lit­eral, de­mons. If that all sounds a bit pat, it should be noted that the show’s source, the 1959 novel by Shirley Jack­son of the same name, has been so roundly copied by slav­ish im­i­ta­tors that many of its tropes are now lazy hor­ror sta­ples. De­spite that bag­gage, how­ever, the in­ter­net has been unan­i­mous in nam­ing this Net­flix night­mare fod­der a cut above.

Paul Tassi of Forbes’ In­sert Coin out­let de­clared it “eas­ily the best hor­ror TV show/an­thol­ogy I’ve ever seen” while Vul­ture raved that “It’s not a para­nor­mal story, so much as a med­i­ta­tion on the way trauma maims the liv­ing”. In case that sounded a bit too much like a first class ticket to snoozeville, they were care­ful to add “and it’s scary as hell”.

Therein lies the ac­tual ge­nius of The Haunt­ing of Hill House; it’s re­ally, prop­erly, le­git­i­mately scary. A show that mar­ries tense, emo­tion­ally lay­ered sto­ry­telling with great big heart-stop­ping jump scares, in­clud­ing a few which have been too much for some view­ers re­port­ing vom­it­ing, faints and in­som­nia.

This be­ing the in­ter­net, there was also a ded­i­cated army of sleuths who started dis­cov­er­ing other chill­ing ad­di­tives Net­flix have stirred in to the mix; a bone-chill­ingly vast ret­inue of ghostly faces, and cameos that are only vis­i­ble for mi­cro-sec­onds at a time, all spot­ted by eagle eyed view­ers mak­ing use of Net­flix’s 4K pause func­tion.

“WTF” drib­bled trau­ma­tised fan @vvendy­park “Im watch­ing @haunt­ing theres a face be­hind the mum. Did any­one else no­tice this??” The re­sult­ing thread sug­gests that yes, other peo­ple did no­tice this and, be­fore long, there were dozens of equally hor­ri­fy­ing snip­pets glimpsed through­out the show’s run.

Screen Rant were quick­est off the mark to amass all the sight­ings into one ghoul­ish gallery, which shows the apparitions in all their creepy, men­ac­ing glory. Even if you’re much too gen­tle of spirit to sit down to 10 hours of hor­ror, glanc­ing through these gal­leries of ghostly gifs will give you a taste of for the scari­est on-screen spec­ta­cle of the year. That is, of course, un­til they green­light my own Bosco-themed project, Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of Pick­led Pep­pers. Watch this space.

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