The Haunting of Hill House Netflix
The Haunting of Hill House Netflix adaptation debuts this weekend. Photo by Netflix

Several years have passed since Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) sailed for Westeros in Game of Thrones season 6, leaving her then-lover, Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) behind. Whether the latter will reappear in the hit HBO program’s final season remains to be seen. Yet that doesn’t mean the Dutch actor hasn’t been keeping busy. On Friday, he joins an impressive ensemble cast The Haunting of Hill House Netflix adaptation of the acclaimed 1959 gothic horror by author Shirley Jackson.

Two films, both titled “The Haunting,” have tried to tell the psychologically dense tale. With Huisman’s new 10-episode series, however, it seems simple tricks like jump scares have been traded in for a much deeper and unrelenting sense of dread.

Michiel Huisman talks The Haunting of Hill House Netflix adaptation

The Haunting of Hill House Netflix Michiel Huisman

“I thought that wrapping the scares in more of a psychological drama would be very interesting,” says Huisman. “Our show plays with the idea that, for the longest time, we really don't know whether everything we see and experience is only happening in the minds of our characters, or if it's actually the power of a building. In this case, the Hill House.”

 

In The Haunting of Hill House Netflix adaptation, Huisman plays Steven Crain, the oldest of the Crain children who famously survived living in the titular haunted house. He has largely moved past his family’s traumas by cashing in on the experience by becoming an acclaimed author. In a sense, he has betrayed his family by selling himself (and them) out.

“He's basically with his back against the wall,” says Huisman. “He finally has everything he has ever wanted -- the career, the house, all of it. But in order to achieve all of that, he basically had to sell out by writing a book about their childhood trauma. As a result, his brothers and sisters hate him for it.”

This family dynamic is a new edition to the Hill House story, for aside from giving the surname to the man who built the house, Jackson’s novel doesn’t explore this particular topic. Instead, the Netflix series owes this contribution (and many others) to its creator, Mike Flanagan, who previously wrote and directed the horror films Oculus, Hush and Gerald’s Game.

“On most of the TV shows I've worked on, there's either a different director for every episode or three or four directors who do the show in blocks,” Huisman explains. “When you have one director doing everything as Mike did, it all of a sudden becomes something different. It’s like you're making one long movie. basically. It’s like a 10-hour movie, and it gives a filmmaker like Mike the opportunity to give it his unique signature.”

The actor admits that this is the first time he has ever experience a production like Hill House, on which Flanagan not only wrote and directed, but also served as executive producer and editor.

“It's not unique, but this was the first time for me,” Huisman says of the series’ leader before stifling a laugh. “It's a lot for anyone to do. I mean, I do not understand how this guy pulled it off without dying of espresso and pizza. That, and lots of candy.”

The Haunting of Hill House Netflix adaptation debuts Friday, Oct. 12.

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