The Haunting of Hill House or a series more about mental illness than about ghosts

This is our forever house. It always was. Nothing bad will ever touch them ever again.
Nothing good will, either.

I saw something new on my Netflix list – a series with a title similar to one of the most horrifying horror books I’ve ever laid my hands on. And since it’s October and Spookfest is on, I decided to give it a try. I was instantly hooked. I binge-watched the show in a day and a bit and I wanted to see if anyone else noted the mix of reality, visions and hallucinations in the series. The story is told from the POV of everyone involved and as opposed to the book, the series starts with the death of one of the family and then flashes back to the events leading up to that point.

There’s talk about the possibilty of their mother having been schizophrenic, about mental disease being passed down to all of the children, about abilities and coping mechanisms. I was impressed to see how the survivors centred their adult lives around things to make them cope. Luke turned to drugs and mind-altering substances to help him forget. His twin sister had nightly sleep paralysis where she was terrified and could see a shadowy figure called the Bent-Neck Lady. The middle child was like “a fist with hair” and went on to study psychology and work with children in the foster system – using her ability to touch and sense things to be able to tell if a child had been abused or not. The oldest sister went into becoming a mortician and sometimes sold things for cost or less in order to help grieving families to experience a decent passing on of their loved one. She took great care to “fix” people after their death and even though she was a control freak, she did her best to keep the family together. Out of all the siblings, she’s the only one who went on and had children. The oldest brother is an investigative writer dealing with debunking haunted houses. His way of dealing with what happened was to pretend it was just a trick of the mind, that ghosts aren’t real and by denying the supernatural evidence, he considered the demons and visions he was seeing as a left-over genetic inheritance from his insane mother.

It’s not the house.
There’s something wrong with our goddamn brains.

I loved the series. It deals more with family drama and the horror intermingled is legit. Ghosts, walking ghouls, imaginary friends, psychosis and what I loved most were the tropes that made the Japanese Horror Genre reach cult level: monsters dragging the covers off of the young sleeping woman, a suspended body on top of the ceiling above the bed, hiding under the bed, things coming at the person vieweing it in reverse and people standing there that aren’t actually there (the watch repair man).

In my mind, they all suffered from black mould inhalations in that house. It was damp, the spores were in the air and I had to gasp when Steve, the older brother, paints over it while reconditioning his mother’s rather than cleaning it off. Underneath it all is “death and rot and ruin”.

Mental and Neurological Symptoms From Toxic Black Mold

The trichothecene mycotoxins produced by toxic black mold are neurotoxic. This means they can kill neurons in the brain and impair a person’s mental ability. They also cause nervous disorders such as tremors and can cause personality changes such as mood swings and irritability.


  • Confusion
  • Brain fog
  • Shortened attention span
  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss and memory problems
  • Impaired learning ability
  • Hallucinations
  • Shock
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Aggression and other personality changes
  • Tingling
  • Trembling
  • Shaking
  • Seizure
  • Numbness

If you’ve seen the series, you probably have seen most of these symptoms in the mother. I think she was the most affected, to a degree where she could not tell reality and hallucinations apart, leading her to wonder aimlessly from room to room, talk to people who weren’t there, can’t tell day and night apart and ended up feeding rat poison at a tea party.

All this time we tried to get into this room and now we can’t get the fuck out.
I feel like I’ve been here before.
We have.
All of us have. So many times and we didn’t know it. All of us. I feel a bit clearer now. Everything’s been out of order. Time, I mean. I thought for so long that time was like a line, that… that our moments were laid out like dominoes, and that they… fell, one into another and on it went, just days tipping, one into the next, into the next, in a long line between the beginning and the end.
But I was wrong. It’s not like that at all.
Our moments fall around us like rain. Or… snow. Or confetti.
You were right. We have been in this room. So many times and we didn’t know. All of us.

Mom says… that a house is like a body.. and that every house… has eyes. And bones. And skin. And a face. This room is like the heart of the house.
No, not a heart, a stomach.

It put on different faces so that we’d be still and quiet. While it digested.
I’m like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster. And the monster feels my tiny little movements inside. You have to live.

I’m scattered into so many pieces, sprinkled on your life like new snow.

In the end the show is about a haunted house like the one in Occulus or American Horror Story (First Season) or Amitiville Horror, who feeds on the people who live in it – driving them insane and making sure their souls are trapped within.

We know what really happened here tonight. And your kids, they don’t need to hear anything else.

They decide to let the haunted house live on, starve, not let it take another soul and not burn it to the ground either as it’s got the keeper’s daughter’s soul. I really understood that the father made a choice to keep quiet about the whole affair as the people wouldn’t understand it properly. I personally would have preferred they killed the black mould as well..

I’ve lived with ghosts since I was a kid. Since before I knew they were even there. Ghosts are guilt, ghosts are secrets, ghosts are regrets and failings.
But most times…most times a ghost is a wish. Like a marriage is a wish.
A marriage can be like a house and a marriage can be haunted, and I let that happen to us.

I did find out something interesting. The ending on Netflix is completely different compared to the one originally suggested. They wanted to burn it down!

“I have to be very careful about what I say,” series star Oliver Jackson-Cohen admitted to us. “But there was an original ending that hadn’t been written but had been told to me. And then, I think, creatively he decided he wanted to do something different.”


  • isolation (away from people, locked out, locked in, too many walls)
  • fear (primal response)
  • eyes (notice how their eyes were white in all ghost apparitions, meaning no soul)
  • cold (the house was cold = uninviting)
  • the red room (a place of their own where they could be by themselves)
  • poison (who leaves rat poison outside in a house filled with children)
  • wallpaper (remove the surface, find a message)
  • children (the innocent are most vulnerable to sensing out-of-this world things)
  • stir-crazy (locked up for too long in the house, no outlet)
  • family trauma (and how they dealt with it)
  • un-linear time (the Bent-neck lady was Nell)
  • staircases (the circular one was quite unusual as there was already a grand staircase. Think of ascension to a higher conscience by going straight up – or down)
    The Haunting (1963). Martin Scorsese placed The Haunting first on his list of the 11 scariest films of all time, and Spielberg reportedly considered it among the scariest films of all time as well.

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