Bleats

Netflix's The Haunting Of Hill House Is The Internet's Latest Obsession And It's Easy To See Why

In this golden age of television where it almost feels like there's too many shows, this one stands out.

Warning: this article may contain spoilers.

The Haunting of Hill House has taken the internet by storm, and has even garnered praise from the likes of Stephen King himself. Once you watch it, it’s easy to understand why; it’s a fantastic reinterpretation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel of the same name, and, in my opinion, a prime example of one of the advantages television has over movies: more time to work with.

The show starts off slowly; I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get into it. I even gave up on watching it after the first ten minutes failed to interest me. But I’m so glad I gave it a second chance.

The appeal of the show is that it mixes emotion and heart in alongside the fear and horror. Other elements work together to make it a fantastic example of storytelling – the actors are brilliant; the mythos of the house itself; the non-linear narrative. It’s a powerful examination of dealing with grief and trauma, and it’s just a damn good example of horror done right.

In a behind-the-scenes video, director Mike Flanagan said:

“In 90 minutes, you can get away with scaring people 3 or 4 times. For something like this, over ten hours, the rules are very different. I want to build a sense of tension, and to sustain it as long as possible.”

The show does that wonderfully – despite a huge reveal just halfway through the ten-episode season, there are still numerous unanswered questions that keep you invested in the show and its characters. Shows like this remind me why I prefer television over film; like with books, you have a longer period of time to work with, which can allow for more detailed storytelling. Hill House makes near-perfect use of its ten hours of screen time, taking advantage of the medium to delve into the mysteries of the house and its previous inhabitants.

If you’re anything like me, though, you probably didn’t want the show to end, which is why I was thrilled to find three short stories based on the Hill family over on Reddit, posted by a user called Count_To_Seven. The first one, ‘These Walls of Mine‘, was posted a month ago; the second, ‘The Boy at the Window‘ in late September; and the third, ‘Poppy Hill‘ not long before the show’s premiere on October 12th. These stories give more of the history of the house’s original inhabitants and help clear up some of the lingering questions left after finishing the show.

While you’re on Reddit, check out this post for a list of every single sneaky ghost hiding throughout the series.

Critical response to the show has been overwhelmingly positive; the master of horror himself, Stephen King, tweeted his approval last week, and the show currently has a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Popular response to the show has also been overwhelmingly positive – a quick Twitter search shows that hundreds of people are just as consumed by the show as I am.

Despite some sensationalist headlines, I don’t think the show will make you vomit or faint unless you’re really, really sensitive (and in that case, maybe horror isn’t for you?), but it’s well worth watching, and maybe then watching again. That’s what I plan on doing this week, anyway. Come in, won’t you?

Is It Just Me, Or Is Netflix's 'Like Father' Just A Really Long Ad For Royal Caribbean?

The only thing this largely forgettable movie left with me was a deep desire to go on a cruise.

Netflix’s latest original movie offering is Like Father, a comedy starring Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer, and frankly, calling it a comedy is generous. The premise of the film is that Bell’s character is a workaholic ad executive from New York (how many movies about New York-based workaholics does the world need?) who gets left at the altar because she just can’t stop working, even on her wedding day. She ends up getting drunk with her estranged father, and they wake up after their boozy night out and find themselves on what was meant to be the couple’s honeymoon cruise.

Bell and Grammer are both comedic legends, and the movie is directed by Seth Rogen’s wife, Lauren Miller. Despite this, it feels generic and forced. The rest of the cast, full of the types of faces you’d recognise but not be able to name, is under-utilised, and the inclusion of Seth Rogen makes no sense unless Miller just wanted to justify bringing her husband along to the shoot. The majority of the movie takes place on a cruise ship – specifically, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas – and frankly, the movie feels like an elaborate excuse for the cast and crew to take a vacation. Which is fine; everyone needs a break! But that doesn’t mean you have to subject me to it.

Considering the strong cast and the fact it’s Netflix, I went into Like Father expecting a lot. Maybe it’s my fault for expecting too much and setting myself up for disappointment. But Netflix’s TV shows are fantastic, so why are do so many of its movies fall flat?

Set It Up was released in June, and it’s a cute romcom that introduced the adorable Zoey Deutch to a wider audience, but it wasn’t the stuff of legends. Like Father feels like its spiritual successor in that way – it’s fine, but forgettable. An evening in spent watching it wouldn’t be a complete waste, but it wouldn’t be the best use of your time, either. The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee likens both films to comfort food, but comfort food is something you love eating and return to when you want something familiar yet enjoyable; I can’t see myself rewatching either of these films.

Since most of the movie takes place on the cruise, viewers get to see a good amount of the Harmony of the Seas, which is probably the closest most of us will get to this behemoth of a boat. Amenities include a ‘fucking floating bar’, a robot bartender, entertainment like an interactive game show and talent competition, on-board golf, surf simulators, and day trip activities like kayaking, ziplining on a private island or hiking to an idyllic Caribbean waterfall.

Royal Caribbean’s branding is visible throughout the film, which probably explains why none of the jokes are at the cruise line’s expense. Variety’s Peter Debruge also felt like the movie was an ad, writing: “can it be a coincidence that the film’s gently teasing sense of humor never outright criticizes the food, or the guests, or the seasickness, or the on-board entertainment, and instead presents it all as the ideal place to put old differences to rest?”

Everything about the movie falls flat; both the jokes and the heartwarming moments inspire no feeling in me, the girl who cries at everything and laughs at really, really dumb jokes. The fact that a movie exists that is so boring it couldn’t be saved by Frasier or Veronica Mars/Eleanor Shellstrop is disturbing and challenges everything I thought I knew about the world.

The film tries to teach the viewer several lessons:

  1. Work isn’t everything.
  2. Relationships are important and valuable.
  3. Call your parents.
  4. Don’t spend so much time on your phone, you damn millennial.
  5. Book your Royal Caribbean adventure today!

But based on the near-universal negative reviews and low ratings online (49% on RottenTomatoes and 52 on Metacritic), viewers aren’t buying it.

Photos From Netflix's Sabrina The Teenage Witch Reboot Are Here, But Where The Heck Is Salem?

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina looks spooky as hell, and what's spookier than a talking cat that can destroy you with unholy levels of snark?

Netflix has released two photos from the set of the upcoming Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and it looks a lot darker than the 90s show we all know and love.

Most importantly, Salem the talking cat is nowhere to be found. How can this be?!

Salem Saberhagen, the warlock who was sentenced to spend 100 years as a cat as punishment for trying to take over the world, was the best part of the original Sabrina, without a doubt. His one-liners and overall sassiness transformed an otherwise often forgettable show into a classic, and I can’t imagine a Sabrina reboot without him.

The reboot stars Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men fame as Sabrina Spellman, and Australia’s very own Miranda Otto as her aunt Zelda. Netflix describes the show as a “dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult, and, of course, witchcraft”, that’s closer to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist than it is to the original Sabrina, and it’s clear this is going to be nothing like the show we all grew up watching.

There is no sign of Salem on the show’s IMDB page, which I’m hoping is a grave oversight and not reflective of the show’s final lineup. Maybe producers felt that his comic relief didn’t suit the tone of the show, but what would help Sabrina as she fights against evil more than a feisty feline sidekick?

If anyone needs me, I’ll be watching YouTube compilations of Salem’s best moments in tribute to our favourite furry overlord.

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