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.