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Hopefully everyone has had time to watch at least the first episode of “The Haunting of Hill House“. The whole series is so amazing!
Horror director Mike Flanagan talks about handling his first TV adaptation and approaching the classic source material as a “remix.”
As Mike Flanagan worked on his take on the classic tale The Haunting of Hill House, he felt a specter looking over his shoulder: the ghost of Shirley Jackson. The writer and director responsible for films like Oculus, Hush, Gerald’s Game, and the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is a natural horror buff, especially of Jackson’s original work.
“I loved the book since I was a kid,” Flanagan tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I’ve equally loved Robert Wise’s [film] adaptation.” Finding it a fool’s errand to try to reinvent the wheel, when he was approached to do a televised take on the story, he chose to take it in a completely different direction. Gone is the plot of four adults investigating paranormal activities, now substituted by a family of seven helplessly besieged by the titular house and its mysterious allure, even decades after the fact.
Flanagan talks with THR about the methodology behind his adaptation, including the thinking behind his fractured timeline, the “Bent Neck Lady” and the “Red Room,” as well as how the first season was initially supposed to end.
EW – If you want to get a jump start on your Halloween scares, Netflix is debuting its new horror series The Haunting of Hill House today.
This new take on Shirley Jackson’s classic novel (previously adapted for film in 1963 and 1999) finds a group of estranged adult siblings — played by Elizabeth Reaser, Michiel Huisman, Kate Siegel, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Victoria Pedretti — dealing with ghosts that have been haunting them since they lived in the titular house as children. “The house represents the past, and we can’t escape it,” says Reaser. “The house is inside of us all now, in a way.”
The series jumps back and forth in time, with the story being told in present day as well as through flashbacks to the family’s disturbing time at Hill House. (Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino play the parents in the flashbacks.)
Created for TV and directed by Mike Flanagan (Gerald’s Game, Oculus), Hill House operates like a dysfunctional family drama with supernatural scares (think Bloodline meets Poltergeist). EW talked to Flanagan, who’s currently shooting The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, about crafting his latest ghost story.
EW – Just like with the Stephen King-based It, Mike Flanagan‘s Netflix horror series needs two casts to tell the freaky story at its core. To be fair, though, King’s novel came out in 1986, 30 years after Flanagan’s source material. So Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House did it first.
As shown in EW’s exclusive behind-the-scenes video for The Haunting of Hill House, the 10-episode series adaptation introduces the Crains across two different time periods: when the family were first being plagued by malevolent forces inside what is now the most haunted home in rural Massachusetts, and 25 years later to see them reconvene as traumatized adults to finally face their demons.
There are the model parents, the son who grows up to write a book based on their experiences, the level-headed daughter, the child with a sensitivity to ghosts, and the totally troubled twins.
Carla Gugino (Olivia Crain), Henry Thomas (young Hugh Crain), Paxton Singleton (young Steven Crain), Lulu Wilson (young Shirley Crain), McKenna Grace (young Theo Crain), Julian Hilliard (young Luke Crain), and Violet McGraw (young Nell Crain) portray the Crains before they succumbed to parasitic poltergeists.
The adult cast, then, is populated by Timothy Hutton (Hugh Crain), Michael Huisman (Steven Crain), Elizabeth Reaser (Shirley Crain), Kate Siegel (Theo Crain), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Luke Crain), and Victoria Pedretti (Nell Crain).
“More important than the horror for me was always the human drama,” Flanagan, who created, directed, and executive produced the show, says in the video (above). “If we loved these characters and if we could truly empathize with them on a personal level, we wouldn’t be able to stop ourselves from being afraid for them.