Review: (2.0 / 5)
The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 literary ghost classic by Shirley Jackson. Right off the bat, I will say that there are two things in life that freak me out, ghosts, but even more than anything else, demons! When I realized the novel was written nearly sixty years ago, I wasn’t too alarmed. Then again, Psycho scared the shit out of me. My experience in reading classics, which is limited, tends to be that the classic novels carry the traditional tropes that follow the genre. It was that way for Mystery RIG, and so far out of the gate its that way for Horror. Hill House is written from the point of view of the protagonist Eleanor Vance. The story is only 235 pages, but could have been much shorter had Jackson eliminated all the times Eleanor repeated herself through dialogue. Just my opinion of course, but what came across as constant whining, made it so that I could not connect with Eleanor.
The novel begins with backstory of the characters, which was important. It allowed us to understand Eleanor, along with the rest of the characters. The story moves on to Dr. Montague renting out the house, with the intent of exploring the rumored hauntings that go on inside the residence. He extends an invitation to some prominent individuals whoa are familiar with paranormal activity. It is then that Eleanor, along with the others, get the opportunity to study Hill House.
Eleanor makes the drive into Hillsdale and finds it an odd little mountain town. She swings by a coffee shop, with the hopes of getting to know the area. Dr. Montague forewarned her not to bring up the topic of the Hill House with the townspeople. Her attempts to get them to talk failed. Eleanor is later joined by Theodora, and the two experience several incidents that leave them questioning whether the home is haunted. Dr. Montague tells them about the architecture of the home, and how it was constructed with off balanced. Eleanor wonders whether that could play with people’s mind.
As the novel progresses, the house gets the best of Eleanor, and her cohorts opt to send send her home. By this time, the Hill House has played with her mind, and for unknown reasons, she accelerates her car directly into a tree. The assumption is that she killed herself. After that, the rest of the group quickly left Hill House.
The story never really took off for me, and dragged along the entire 235 pages. For me, it fell short of horror, and definitely lacked the fear factor I was expecting from a ghost story. I guess that means I will be sleeping with the lights off tonight. That’s not to say that Jackson’s novel did not prove to be a success. Since its release, the book did result in two adaptations; a movie, The Haunting in 1963, and another in 1999. The latter is most familiar to me. In 2015, the Liverpool Playhouse produced their version of The Haunting of Hill House.