Halloween may still be two weeks away, but horror fans can get their fill of scares today with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. The series, based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel, tells the story of the Crain siblings (Steven, Shirley, Theo, Luke, and Nell) as they confront the tragedies of their childhood and face their inner demons.
Prior to the show’s premiere, Blast Magazine had the opportunity to speak with executive producer Meredith Averill and stars Oliver Jackson-Cohen [Luke] and Lulu Wilson [young Shirley] about their experience working on one of the scariest shows of the year.
Blast Magazine: This series is based on Shirley Jackson’s well-known novel. What is the most difficult part of working on a program with such rich source material?
Meredith Averill: Knowing what is important to keep for your brand-new story and what is okay to leave behind. Mike Flanagan created the show and adapted it from that book. He truly loves the book but he also wanted to create something totally new. It was important for him to be able to tell a brand-new story while also keeping a lot of the themes the same. The greatest challenge in the writer’s room was finding ways to pay respect to the book and to the Robert Weiss movie. Throughout the series, you will see visual homages to that movie. We wanted to create something new that fans of the original would still love.
Blast Magazine: These episodes deal with intense, heavy topics, such as grief and trauma. What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of working on this show?
Lulu Wilson: Getting in contact with all of Shirley’s emotions was really difficult for me. Sometimes you can be really closed off to that, but I think I learned how to accomplish that with this project.
Blast Magazine: Why was Netflix the right home for this show?
Meredith Averill: The success of shows like Stranger Things has shown that Netflix really knows how to find and build a horror audience especially with a show that is not a typical horror show. I think this show in particular has a great binge-ability to it. I don’t think you would get the same experience if it was an FX or AMC show that was only on once a week.
Blast Magazine: What makes this project different than any other horror series or film out there right now?
Oliver Jackson-Cohen: It focuses on something that I don’t think any other horror thing has before. That’s probably a massive generalization but this show takes the audience on a journey that they would never expect with horror. Mike [Flanagan] has given this show so much heart. He chose to focus the series around a family and how they deal with trauma. I just don’t think that’s ever been done before.
Blast Magazine: This season is filled with great episodes, but is there a specific one that you are most excited for fans to see?
Meredith Averill: Episode 6 is pretty special. It’s the episode that Mike is probably the proudest of. It was the most technically difficult and I think it’s the episode that most people are going to be talking about.
Lulu Wilson: Episode 2 because it focuses on all of Shirley’s layers and what makes her who she is.
Be sure to watch The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix!