The Haunting Of Hill House (1959) is a truly great Gothic Horror novel by Shirley Jackson (1916-1965). Considered one of the best literary ghost stories ever published, Jackson’s novel relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion in the reader, using complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the characters’ inner lives.
The book has been adapted to film twice, both times under the title The Haunting. The Haunting (1963) with Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, was directed by Robert Wise. It is a mostly faithful adaptation and received wide critical praise. The 1999 version directed by Jan de Bont, stars Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, is significantly different from the novel and it is a real stinker. It is parodied in Scary Movie 2 (2001).
The book was adapted for Broadway in 1964 by F. Andrew Leslie. In 2015, a new stage version was produced at the Liverpool Playhouse.
The Haunting Of Hill House is now a 10 episode series streaming on Netflix. Created by Mike Flanagan, it stars Timothy Hutton, Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas. It has received rapturous reviews and has been scaring the bejeezus out of people for weeks. I think it is the scariest thing I have ever seen on television. Stephen King, who knows a thing or two about horror and is a huge admirer of Jackson’s novel, tweeted:
“I don’t usually care for this kind of revisionism, but this is great. Close to a work of genius, really. I think Shirley Jackson would approve, but who knows for sure.”