A few years ago, a group of scientists published a study on screaming: the effects it has on those who hear it, and the type of screams that sound most fearful. “Scream science,” they called it. “A new kind of science.” The scientists had subjects listen to various screams and then judge them based on how afraid the screamer sounded. The rougher the scream, they found, the quicker that scream went straight to the listener’s amygdala, the brain’s fear center, and triggered fear responses––a boost in adrenaline and endorphins, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, tense muscles. A primal and ancient reaction. In this way, a scream serves as both a release and a warning: I’m afraid and you should be too.
Which is to say: this past year has felt like one long scream.
It’s happening. Haunting of Hill House is officially returning to Netflix for a Season 2. The streaming service announced the news on Thursday, Feb. 21, with a creepy new Haunting Season 2 teaser that confirmed that Season 2 won’t continue the story of the Crain family. In fact, it seems like it won’t even continue the story of Hill House at all. Instead, Haunting of Hill House Season 2 will be known as The Haunting of Bly Manor. Fans of gothic literature will recognize Bly Manor as the location of the Henry James novel The Turn of the Screw. And, if you’re sad to see Hill House go, rest assured that Bly Manor is just as terrifying of a place.
I am such a fan of Shirley Jackson’s book The Haunting of Hill House, it’s required reading for any self-respecting horror fan. So when I heard that when a TV show adaptation was happening, I was excited. Until I saw that it wasn’t an adaptation it was a remake, a complete re-imagining of the original book. I resentfully watched the show and in what must have been 20 minutes, I was hooked. There were so many easter eggs for fans of the original 1959 movie and the book, that I was satisfied the filmmakers cared for Jackson’s vision and weren’t trying to disrespect her.
By episode 6, I was so invested in the show and the characters, but also the filmmaking which was so much more in-depth than most tv shows. The movement backward and forward in time in a narrative sense is hard to do, nonetheless with child actors. See the video below for how the cinematographers and filmmakers pulled it off.
At the beginning of The Haunting of Hill House—the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel upon which Netflix’s 10-part series is based—Eleanor Vance takes a car (her sister’s; stolen) and sets out on a journey with the scantest possible information. She has been invited to a house, possibly haunted, by a man she doesn’t know, because she had a childhood encounter with a poltergeist.
Unlike Netflix’s family-centric adaptation, Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House involves the meeting of four strangers—Dr. Montague, who has contrived the trip; Luke Sanderson, heir to Hill House; Eleanor; and a young woman named Theodora—who find themselves in a house beset by escalating psychic disturbances. This is a ghost story in which ghosts are seldom seen; a horror story without gore. If horror relies on acts of transgression to deliver its chills, then The Haunting of Hill House is uniquely attuned to the transgressive implications of wearing another person’s clothes.
Eleanor sets off to Hill House armed with gloves, a pocketbook, a light coat. These are sensible items, appropriate to her dull New York City life. She’s someone who would choose neutral, non-assertive hues. Camel, maybe. Dark brown. Navy blue. But on the back seat, concealed in her suitcase, are clothes Eleanor has bought herself specifically for the occasion. They are clothes that embody the kind of person she wishes to be: a bright red sweater, red shoes, and even—“excited at her own daring”—two pairs of slacks. This impulse is a familiar one. Who hasn’t, on the precipice of a holiday, recklessly bought a wardrobe’s worth of aspirational clothing? You imagine you will be different. More relaxed. You will be lighter, prettier, more at ease. You will be the kind of person who drinks brandy. You will make new friends. It’s easy to be seduced by this kind of thinking. New clothes offer the possibility of reinvention.