A review of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House

A Chilling Review Of Netflix's 'The Haunting Of Hill House' Adaptation

Just because it's spring doesn't mean thrillers can't be binge watched.

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The story in 'The Haunting of Hill House' succeeds on the raw strength of its characters and the depth of their complex family drama revolving around an unforgettable ghost story. It focuses as much on the family dilemma as it does on the horror. And that's exactly why it's so good.

Instead of purely relying on jump scares, it adds depth to a genre known for its flat, hollow characters, that are only on screen long enough to be murdered. This may turn some people off, as they'll be expecting something a bit more "traditional" in terms of horror. But rest assured, this story is still creepy enough to make you sleep with the lights on.

The actors nail their characters and make this an enthralling, highly-entertaining fright-fest. And even though it might be a bit light on the frights at times, this show almost reinvents the idea of horror by presenting the creatures that go bump in the night as something closer, many of which you won't see coming.

Director and writer, Mike Flanagan has sneakily hidden enough ghastly images in the frames to frighten even the most seasoned horror veteran, although the average viewer might miss most of these. While the scare-factor may not always be nearing max, don't let this deter you from taking notice of the sinister details lurking in scenes that otherwise appear benign.

Flanagan has managed to brilliantly hide easter eggs throughout the entirety of the season in the most unexpected places. A face reflected in a window, or hands reaching out from under a bed. He cranks up the atmosphere by catering to the most observant ghost hunters viewing this deliciously eerie show.

The first half of the season follows each one of the five siblings, a full episode devoted to developing every character. They are each well into their adult lives and are individually dealing with emotional trauma from their last painful night at Hill House. When a series of events triggers the family to face their demons together yet again, the story unfolds seamlessly.

The show cleverly weaves back and forth through time, showing us our main protagonists as children living at Hill House, so as to keep the audience guessing up until the end. As the show bounces around from past to present, each piece of new information just makes the grander puzzle ever more intriguing. Some viewers may find themselves more engrossed by the mystery than the horror. But that's not to say that this show doesn't succeed in the horror department.

The parts that are scary are exceptionally well done, but sometimes they can be few and far between as screen time is spent developing these characters. The increased exposition does strengthen the narrative, but it comes at the expense of more scares. Nonetheless, this is still a great show.

The second half of the season follows a slightly different set-up than the first, as an unforeseen event brings all the siblings together, eliciting a profusion of deep seeded resentment, which plays out wonderfully on screen. Kudos to the creators for being able to hold this whole thing together cohesively without it coming off the rails and ceasing to be compelling. As the second half of the season delves deeper into the siblings personal and shared trauma, it also twists and turns, keeping you on your toes right when you thought things might be slowing down. The steady pacing and assured direction throughout the duration of the season will have you glued to the screen, right up until the end.

This show is a gift to a genre that is all too often riddled with needless blood splatter and clichés. The Haunting of Hill House is a fantastically binge-worthy show. Not a single episode ends on a dull note. Which is more than can be said for the overabundance of recent Netflix additions that are an absolute slog to get through.

The main actors are believable, and the story is tautly written, with clear direction and plenty of "boos" sprinkled throughout. And in the interest of keeping the season's mystery alive, this review has been kept as spoiler-free as possible. The Haunting of Hill House is a fine addition to Netflix's ever-growing catalog of original content and a perfectly chilling way to spend a few hours this Halloween season.

8.5 out of 10

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This article was co-written by Paulo Torres.

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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'Jane The Virgin' Season Five Made Me Hate Jane

Season five has ruined Jane Gloriana Villanueva.

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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Jane the Virgin"

Now, for all the super fans left, let me preface this article by saying that I love "Jane the Virgin." The show itself has brought a large piece of Latinx culture to an American audience in a way that is both educational and thrilling. Somehow, the writers of this modern Telenovela managed to find the balance between "soap opera" drama and modern TV drama.

However, while the show itself remains captivating, its main character has lost her luster. In other seasons, Jane proved to be an honest, selfless young woman. One of the prime examples of this is when she tells Michael she is pregnant instead of just accepting his proposal and dealing with the consequences later.

In seasons one through four, Jane was, as expected, caught up in the drama, but she always tried to put others before herself. She was fiercely protective of her mother and abuela as well as her son, Mateo. She was eager to help a struggling Petra, though Petra was nothing but rude to her.

Season five Jane is a different story.

This Jane perpetuates the idea that it is OK to play with someone's feelings, that she is right in dangling a relationship over both Raphael and Michael's heads. She claims that she doesn't know what she feels, that she has feelings for both Raphael and Michael. That she can't just run from her feelings for Michael.

She preaches that "love" is only an emotion. That it is ONLY felt. That because she "feels" something still there with Michael, she must still love him.

Sorry to break it to you Jane, but love isn't just a feeling. Love is a choice. It's a struggle. It's a fight you'll never stop fighting. It's a race you'll never get tired of running or when you do, you'll take a long drink of water and keep going.

Quite frankly, the way in which Jane treats her relationship with both men is emotional abuse. It is not only affecting the adults, but also the children as Mateo begins acting out and Ana and Ellie are convinced Raphael is taking drugs. While toying with the hearts of two men she cares about, she is also placing a wedge between herself and her son.

It seems stupid to be so opinionated about a silly TV show like "Jane the Virgin," but I know what it's like to be the second choice, then the first choice, then second again. Always wondering if you'll be good enough the next time, what you could have done better, how you could be different. Jane's actions in the final season only perpetuate the idea that it's OK to play with someone's emotions and that love is only a feeling. If you don't feel it, you don't have it.

Disclaimer: I am totally Team Raphael (if that wasn't obvious enough in this article), but here's why: Jane and Michael's relationship was based on "feeling." It "felt" magical. Raphael and Jane were not "love at first sight' but grew to love and accept one another. To me, this is the beautiful story. This is the real story of love.

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