12:50pm PT by Jean Bentley
Is 'The Haunting of Hill House' Netflix's New 'Stranger Things'?
With Stranger Things likely benched until 2019, there's room for a new Halloween showcase horror series at Netflix. On Monday night at the ArcLight in Hollywood, the cast of the streaming service's newest horror effort, The Haunting of Hill House, made a case for their show filling that void.
Co-showrunner and executive producer Meredith Averill welcomed comparisons to the genre hit — "I certainly hope it's the next Stranger Things for Netflix in that it is a ginormous hit that people love and garners awards and that is wonderful," she told The Hollywood Reporter — but said the series are not necessarily comparable. "Tonally, I think it's sort of Six Feet Under with ghosts or Bloodline with ghosts, because it's more of a family drama."
The 10-episode Haunting of Hill House is based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, and focuses on a family living in the spooky, haunted abode who are forced to flee in the middle of the night after a tragic (and terrifying) event. The series contains both the creepy, gothic touches of the book and the hallmarks of creator Mike Flanagan's other films.
"I think Stranger Things has sort of a throwback [vibe], has probably more humor, is probably for a younger audience — not to say that this isn't for all ages, but certainly the themes at work [on Stranger Things] I think you're going to find are for a younger audience," Averill explained. "This is spookier. It's more about creating a tone of dread. If you've seen Mike's movies, it is very much in his wheelhouse of the feeling you get and the atmosphere that you get coming out of his movies."
Star Elizabeth Reaser said it's as simple as the subject matter. "To me, Stranger Things is about these children and our show is about a family. But I love the comparison. I'll take it," she said. And while Stranger Things certainly harnesses nostalgia, Haunting of Hill House looks at the past in a different way. "It's not looking back fondly — it's looking back with a wary, broken eye, basically," explained Reaser.
Most of the younger and older members of the cast — the show follows the Crain family through different time periods — helped pack a theater at the ArcLight before heading to nearby Hollywood speakeasy No Vacancy. The venue, built in an old Victorian home and decked out like a 1920s hotel, didn't need too many extra touches from the Netflix events crew to seem appropriately on theme (though the copious fog machines and lighting certainly helped). Also not something seen at the bar on a typical weeknight: a woman dressed as the series' creepy "bent-neck lady" wandering through the house, silently scaring partygoers.
Guests, including stars Reaser, Michiel Huisman and Carla Gugino, dined on passed appetizers, including steak skewers, veggie burgers, falafel, chicken sandwiches and tuna, and drank cocktails from the club's craft bartenders. The only thing not scary about the whole affair: the soundtrack, which included Mariah Carey, Rihanna and Missy Elliott, and brought most of the young castmembers to the dance floor, where they held court for the evening.
The Haunting of Hill House premieres Friday on Netflix.