IT’S bETTEr TO LET THE HOrrOr ELEmENTS crEEp IN THAN jUST GO fOr THE jOLT
“we wanted the house to be full of implied or explicit faces that were always staring at the characters – or the audience,” Flanagan reveals. “Almost all our wallpaper has different facial patterns inside it. they’re in the doorknobs too – some are animals, some human. then there’s the placement of windows in relation to fireplaces: we laid out eyes and an open mouth in all the rooms. it’s a subconscious thing, but it creates this sense of unease.”
that’s not the only thing to look out for. there are references aplenty – some more obvious than others.
“when you get to episode five you’ll see russ tamblyn, who played Luke in the robert wise film,” Flanagan reveals. “he plays a character called Dr Montague. one of my favourite parts of production was giving him a tour of hill house – that was absolutely surreal! we went through the novel finding story points, character moments, and sometimes specific language, and finding ways to pepper them through the series. i wanted the film to be an irreverent tribute to the book, and to robert wise.” other nods are more discreet. take the stone lions. in Jackson’s book, eleanor is fascinated by a house which has a pair sitting outside, and talks of having some on her mantelpiece. “we had our own stone lions placed carefully around the house,” Flanagan says. “But also there’s a hotel the characters stay in: the stone Lion inn. Little easter eggs like that were delightful for us. i hope the fans can grab onto them.” it’s been Flanagan’s first experience of working in this medium, but it sounds like it won’t be his last. “i’ve wanted to get into television for a long time,” Flanagan says, “because of how much larger the canvas is – how much time you can spend with the characters, and how thorough you can be with their arc.” But next time Flanagan may think twice before choosing to direct every episode of a series himself... “i approached it like a 10-hour movie, and it really felt that way. By day 50 of our shoot, knowing that we’d not yet reached the halfway mark, that was somewhat overwhelming. i’m working on a movie now and it seems incredibly relaxing. it’s like, ‘we only have to do two hours – that’s nothing!’ it feels like a long vacation!”
Michiel Huisman and Timothy Hutton star as father and son.
This is why you don’t carry fountain pens in your pocket.
The Haunting Of Hill House begins streaming on Netflix on 12 October.