The Haunting of Hill House is a reimagining of the novel by Shirley Jackson that follows siblings whose lives were touched by a haunted mansion. Created by Mike Flanagan and starring Oscar winner Timothy Hutton, this Netflix horror anthology tells the story of the Crain family through flashbacks and present day.
Unlike many other haunted houses, which often are confined to the actual home itself, Hill House is a haunted building that stretches across multiple hills in the countryside. It’s a terrifying setting, and production designer Patricio M. Farrell embraced the challenge to create a truly imposing interior.
When designing the house, Farrell wanted to make it as imposing as possible, while still maintaining a sense of depth that would support the story and allow viewers to feel a connection with the characters within. Ultimately, he chose to build the entire house on stage, a decision that entailed a significant cost and logistical challenge.
He says that he initially considered using Xanadu as a reference for the interior design, but the series ultimately had to change direction and embrace a more traditional approach. It was a challenging task that required careful planning and execution, but one that offered the cast and crew an opportunity to truly make Hill House their own.
The most important part of the design process was ensuring that each character had their own unique set of surroundings. By establishing their own individual aesthetic, the actors and the audience could connect with each character on a deeper level.
For example, Steven (Michiel Huisman), the eldest of the Crain children, is a bit less susceptible to the ghosts than his younger siblings. He’s skeptical of the existence of supernatural beings, but he takes a keen interest in how the house affects him and his family.
Eleanor Vance, who has been caring for her disabled mother all her life, also feels a powerful attraction to the house. She is in mourning for her mother, and she sees this house as a way to break free of the confinement she’s felt all her life.
She begins to feel as if she is connected to the house and everything it feels and sees. It’s a strange experience, and she eventually welcomes it.
But it’s hard to know whether she is genuinely feeling the house’s influence, or simply becoming more sensitive than she’d like to be. She also doesn’t know how she should feel about being able to see and hear the other people in the house.
In the end, we find out that the house isn’t evil—but it can be a prism for those who aren’t fully sane to view the world from. It’s a way to take a closer look at grief, fear, and trauma, a theme that runs throughout the show’s 10 episodes.
The Haunting of Hill House defies a sense of logic and reason, but it’s a series that’s beautifully styled and compelling to watch. It’s a show that examines how grief can make you a monster, and it does so through a lens that’s uniquely personal to each of the characters involved. It’s a deeply moving and unsettling tale that will leave you wondering whether there are any real ghosts out there, or just stories.