This month many people will be looking for that truly terrifying movie to watch when the lights are out.
There is no shortage of contenders. Films set under the sea that build claustrophobic fears, slashers based on true events, and all manner of ghosts and monsters.
While I have more than a few films that you should never watch - purely because your time is important and you shouldn’t waste it on films like that, there are true gems out there.
Do I recommend the film that started my very rational fear of clowns? The still haunting TV adaptation of Stephen King’s IT.
How about the film that stopped me sleeping for an entire night due to me not knowing the living room I was sleeping in had a fish tank. The drip drip drip that freaked me out after watching the remake of, The Ring.
Perhaps I could go into The Conjuring and the films that followed- after all, the first made me jump out of my skin more than once.
Demons, ghouls, ghosts, crazed killers and so many more monsters. So with all that choice, what could I possibly recommend?
I’d recommend a TV show.
I am watching, The Haunting on Hill House for the second time. My heart still freezes, I still can watch it without the lights or my trusty, Whacka-Stick.
It is brilliantly layered, written, shot, and preformed.
As I re-watch, my eyes are drawn to the background more and more. Am I seeing one of the many ghosts or is this just my eyes playing tricks on me?
This anxiety of ‘perceived’ dread builds the tension like so very few others’ can.
Each one of the siblings is a representation of, ‘The Five Stages of Grief.’ And they themselves handle the trauma of their childhood in a way that stirs something deep within us.
Possibly the scariest part is watching the same scene from a different perspective.
In Steve’s chapter we see the house sometimes being packed with workmen- only for the father to tell us they were never there.
We see Luke playing in his treehouse and yet (as if we ever needed to be told), both parents were far to busy to build such a thing. Luke himself being so traumatized from his childhood that he became dependent on drugs to cope.
Most shows will progress the horror in each episode. That’s not what this show does. This show just strips away all those things that you thought were keeping the characters safe. It progressively shows the ghosts that were always there.
Each sibling is an extension of ourselves, as the vale of a safety net for these characters is taken away, that fear becomes very real to us.
From the perspective of a man, seeing the broken father is a fear that plays on most of us. That worry that we can’t protect our families’, our loved ones’. Not being able to let go of the woman that he loves and even though he has left the house, he is haunted every day by what happened.
The mother, a kind, smart and strong figure that becomes entrapped by fear, paranoia, and eventually possessed.
Contrary to what I previously said, this is one of the few times we see the ‘progression of horror’. This is a blessing. Because we see the steps of the mother’s downfall we feel so much more connected to her. Constantly wanted her and the family just to run. Run from that damn house.
But this story is not a happy one.
I have left out massive chunks of this story. I’ve left out massive characteristics of the family- and that is my intent. However, there is a character that I haven’t spoken about. The true origin of fear and horror of the show and the bedrock of nightmares to follow.
Over and over in the flashbacks, you will hear, see and be told of, ‘The Red Room.’ And in true class A horror, ‘The Red Room’ is not always a red room.
The house is evil- the red room is the heart. It changes for each person and while this mystery plays out in front of our eyes, this wonder and all the questions we have, start to slowly fade away. Again as those safety are dropped we start to see the real danger that is standing right there.
The lion isn’t a cute cub anymore. It’s staring at you with hungry eyes and there is nothing between you two but six feet of cold dark air.
Arguably every great monster shows you how much danger you are in from the very start. The house does this.
I’ve left out so much for all those who have never watched this show for a very simple reason; you need to watch it.
Get your blanket and your very own whacka-stick before you park yourself in front of the box.
If you are watching this again - like me, see how many new things scare you this time around.