In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
It’s easy to look at something like The Haunting of Hill House and write it off as a horror story full of jump scares, ghosts, and tense moments walking down dark hallways. And while this series has each of those things, they’re not the focus or the heart of this story. They’re not why you should watch The Haunting of Hill House this Halloween.
You should spend a spiral of a weekend watching this series because it’s like if Six Feet Under had a bastard love child with American Horror Story and This is Us was it’s godmother. (Yes, I just said that and now you’re interested as fuck to know more about this crazy love child.) The Haunting of Hill House is a slow burn story about family, childhood drama, and resentment with a backdrop that just so happens to be a crazy house out to devour the Crain family.
It’s a slow burn that takes its time to creep you out while making you fall in love with a group of siblings who are all sorts of fucked up. This attention to character, and the manner that the drama unfolds, is what makes The Haunting of Hill House special, stunning, and the kind of tearjerker we need in our lives. And I can’t wait until they give us more!
1. It’s slow burn scary.
Three words: bent neck lady. This subtle, yet horrifying, ghost follows one of our siblings around for her entire life. It’s terrifying and the kind of slow burn that we need, especially with all the cheap horror movies where jump scares, gore, and cruelty are at the forefront. And she’s not the only one that you should watch out for.
There’s the tall man, whose quiet demeanor and floating tendencies, scare the crap out of you. Remnants of the past that haunt this family are also in the walls, the basement, and even in the mirrors the Crain family use. The horror and the darkness is ready to consume them at every turn and the subtle nature of it, is what makes The Haunting of Hill House really shine.
2. It’s about love and family.
A missing element of TONS of horror movies, shows, and books, is the concept of love & family. Writer, executives, and everything in between, think that all we want is to be frightened and that’s not true. We want to connect to the material that we are consuming and they would do well to use The Haunting of Hill House as an example of this.
At the heart of this show is the love that this family holds for each other. It’s why they stay in this home, what keeps them together years after they abandoned it, and what makes them return. Even when it’s hard, scary, and unthinkable to go through the things that are put upon them, love & family keep these siblings afloat. And in turn, it’s what kept me afloat.
Love and family is what made me invested, kept me watching, and what made me share this story with my loved ones so they can go and experience it too.
3. It’s got no unnecessary drama.
Every single moment in The Haunting of Hill House was necessary to the overall story. There was no unnecessary drama or filler episodes to keep it all going. Every moment was another piece of the puzzle that led you to understand how the Crain family fell apart over one summer all those years ago.
The care and patience that The Haunting of Hill House took with it’s characters and the story they were telling, glued you to your seat and made me fear that I would miss something if I went to the bathroom or tried to grab some snacks. It also made me care for every single character, even when they were being an asshole, because it was important to the overall story of the Crain family.
It made me invested in the entirety of the story.
4. It’s not afraid to talk mental health.
Every single member of the Crain family is fucked up and therefore has an intense and complicated relationship with their mental health and those of their family members. And they don’t hide from it. Well, not all the time. It’s a core part of The Haunting of Hill House. And with every episode this series pulls back what mental health means to these siblings and how it’s torn them down over the years.
*SPOILER ALERT* The death of their mother and one of their siblings, helps unfold the guilt and layered resentments that they’ve left hidden inside of themselves. This leads to many interesting conversations, spouts of anger, and eventual healing. It’s hard, scary, but the kind of family drama that we need in this day and age. We’re not all perfect, neither are these characters, and we need to see that healing can happen, even if takes a bit of screaming, talking, and laying it all out.
5. It’s got a fleshed out queer lead.
Theo, one of the siblings in the Crain family, was a welcome surprise. Too often queer characters are put into this little box that they can’t seem to escape from full of stereotypes about who they are. When Theo was partying and picking up women, I was sure that she would fit in this little box. Color me surprised when she tore that box apart and did her own thing.
This queer woman earned her PHD, helped children, had dreams & problems, and was more than just who she wanted to jump into bed with. Her problems, like all of her other siblings, stemmed from the Hill House and stayed with her well into adulthood. But my favorite part, especially for a woman that looks tough as hell and like she wouldn’t break…well…she did break. Her emotions were real, on display, and not something she was utterly ashamed to talk about or express.
That’s why Theo is memorable, unique, and the kind of queer character I’d like to see more of.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)
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