The Haunting of Hill House Blu-ray Review

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of The Haunting of Hill House from Netflix and Paramount Home Media Distribution.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2018
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 569 minutes
Genre: Horror

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.00:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Carla Gugino, Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Seigel, Victoria Pedretti, Lulu Wilson, Michael Huisman, McKenna Grace, Julian Hilliard, Violet McGraw, Paxton Singleton
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Music by: The Newton Brothers
Written by:Various
Region Code: A

Release Date: October 15, 2019

“You’re Expected”

Synopsis:

“Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.” – Paramount Home Media Distribution

My Take:

The Haunting of Hill House is a modern reimagining of the Shirley Jackson novel and follows siblings who, as children, grew up in what would go on to become the most famous haunted house in the country. Now adults, they are forced back together in the face of tragedy and must finally confront the ghosts of their past. Some of those ghosts still lurk in their minds, while others may actually be stalking the shadows of Hill House.

I haven’t read Shirley Jackson’s novel but, I have seen one of the feature films based on it, “The Haunting” which came out 20 years ago now. There is also a 1963 film of the same name. “The Haunting” is a mediocre horror film with a solid cast but, what makes it special is its soundtrack on home video. Anyway, fast forward to 2018 and a new Netflix Original series called The Haunting of Hill House pops up in my Netflix newsfeed. As a genre fan I was very curious and my wife and I gave it a go.

Somewhere in the middle of the first episode it dawned on me that this series appeared to be based on the 1999 film “The Haunting”. It wasn’t until I did some quick checking that I found out about Shirley Jackson’s book etc. The Haunting of Hill House is a 10-episode series that turned out to be so much better than I was anticipating.

Created and directed by Mike Flanagan it’s most definitely seated in the ghost story camp and centers on a family that purely by happenstance winds up occupying Hill House, an old dreary mansion, with a past steeped in chilling legend surrounding the family it’s named after and the tragedy that seems to befall those living under its roof.

The writing is simply terrific, carefully weaving its tale by rendering its narrative’s two time periods and sets of characters (same characters at differing ages) neatly within the context of its evolving plot which moves back and forth, revealing the details of what transpired. The Crain family, now years beyond the events suffered within Hill House, are fractured, each contending with the emotional weight of the past and its firm grip on them. Each set of characters are well represented within the story, allowing a viably rich connection to them and their significance to the plotline.

With each episode more light is shed on not only why the family was, and, is in crisis but, the depths of the foreboding darkness that threatens them. I found The Haunting of Hill House to be riveting, as its wonderfully engrossing story, superbly drawn characters and layer peeling approach had me chomping at the bit to see what was coming next. The elements of familial drama, mystery and horror never left me wanting. As the story draws closer to its conclusion it gets darker, providing the answers to the questions that have been alluded to throughout the course of the season. As I sat down with it again for this review, I was completely drawn in again, reveling in its well-crafted story, visuals and terrific performances by its ensemble cast.

The Haunting of Hill House is a terrific mini-series and is among my favorites of Netfilx’s Original programming. It has been renewed by Netflix as an anthology series, telling a new story each season. I am not what comes next but, I am in!

Here’s the breakdown of the Episode Guide for The Haunting of Hill House:

• EP 101: Steven Sees a Ghost
o Steven Sees a Ghost Extended Director’s Cut
o Steven Sees a Ghost Extended Director’s Cut Commentary by Director Mike Flanagan
• EP 102: Open Casket
• EP 103: Touch
• EP 104: The Twin Thing
• EP 105: The Bent-Neck Lady
o The Bent-Neck Lady Extended Director’s Cut
o The Bent-Neck Lady Extended Director’s Cut Commentary by Director Mike Flanagan
• EP 106: Two Storms
o Two Storms Commentary by Director Mike Flanagan
• EP 107: Eulogy
• EP 108: Witness Marks
• EP 109: Screaming Meemies
• EP 110: Silence Lay Steadily
o Silence Lay Steadily Extended Director’s Cut
o Silence Lay Steadily Extended Director’s Cut Commentary by Director Mike Flanagan

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The series contains thematic material, language, sexual content and disturbing images.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

The Haunting of Hill House comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound.

This 2.00:1 framed video presentation offers appreciable high definition resolution that has a satisfying glossy aesthetic. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Black levels tend to be elevated which leaves many scenes appearing somewhat washed out. The series has an overall teal splashed aesthetic that coincides with its subject matter, resulting in sullen and muted colors. Fleshtones fall in line with the show’s general appearance leaving them lacking in tonal delineation, something that I didn’t deduct for. Overall, I found this presentation to be faithful to its streaming counterpart.

The DTS-HD Master Audio multi-channel soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, robust dynamics and an enriching surround sound mix. I was impressed with its use of spacial dimension and directional cues to create a realistic and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with shows music score, and elements of horror to build suspense/tension and to drive its thematic elements. This appears to be a faithful and high-quality audio/video presentation that looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.

Bonus Features:

  • Extended Director’s Cuts w/audio commentary on Episodes:
    • Steven Sees a Ghost
    • The Bent-Neck Lady
    • Silence Lay Steadily
  • Additional Audio Commentary on Episode:
    • Two Storms

Final Thoughts:

The Haunting of Hill House is a modern reimagining of the Shirley Jackson novel and is a wonderfully crafted 10-part ghost story that proves thoroughly engrossing from end to end. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Media Distribution featuring solid high definition audio/video quality mated with a worthwhile and insightful supplemental package. The Haunting of Hill House is a must see for those that appreciate ghost stories where something goes bump in the night. The show has been renewed by Netflix as an anthology series that will tell a new story each season. I will be tuning in to see where things go.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems