The Haunting of Hill House Review: 'Twas A Dark And Stormy Night

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Wow, this show is one twisted, scary ride.

As they make the push towards the latter half of the season, The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 5 finally allowed us to get a look at Nelly Crain. We know bits and pieces of who she is as a kid, but it took this hour to show us the adult Nelly, who was able to form a semblance of a normal existence for a brief moment in time. 

That is until the bent-neck lady decided to make her triumphant return. 

Bed For The Night - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 5

Nell's story is a haunting masterpiece. Of all the Crain children, she was tied to Hill House the most, seeing the visions of the bent-neck lady the very first night they arrived at the larger than life house. 

The lady who shaped so much of her childhood was dormant for so long until Nell was happy. 

Related: The Haunting of Hill House Review - The Bent-Neck Lady Returns?

Nell's happiness with Arthur was a welcome change of pace for a show that relies on its moody atmosphere and pitch-perfect monsters to keep you on the edge of your seat. But seeing the montage of a happy Nell reveling in happiness and showered with love was, frankly, beautiful. 

Even though we know how Nell's story ends, we still need to know how she got there. And we still need to know what lead her back to the one place she would never want to be. 

Nell's sleep paralysis was brutal to watch and having Arthur's death played out while Nell was in the throes of one of her episodes was heartbreaking.

We didn't get to know Arthur that well, but he seemed like a truly good man, and for someone like Nell, whose entire life has been marked by sadness and fright, that kind of continued loss is crushing. 

Nell & Hugh - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 5

And Nell's new therapist wasn't exactly pushing her in the right direction. 

The months and days leading up to Nell's death were marked with erratic behavior and a desire to face the things she's been avoiding. And while coming to terms with her past was a noble idea, pushing Nell to return the house of hell was not.

Related: The Haunting of Hill House Review - Mr. Smiley & The Floating Man

Seeing the contrast between Nell's visions of her whole adult family in the Hill House versus the actuality of her walking aimlessly through a decrepit house was chilling. As she danced with her love and followed her mother around, I was holding my breath waiting for the moment the bent-neck lady reared her ugly head. 

But it never came in the way that I expected. 

He was dead. He was dead. And she was back.

Nell

The reveal that Nell is the bent-neck lady and has been haunting herself is one of the craziest twists of all time. That was a "Sixth Sense" type of reveal that challenges so many things we may have thought to be true. 

And in The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 6 we get just a little bit closer to the truth. 

Hugh: She was worried about a lot more than Luke.
Steven: Like what?
Hugh: She said the bent-neck lady was back.

The Crain gathering at the funeral home was always going to be a disaster, but add a drunk Steve to the equation, and it was bound to be an even bigger mess than anyone could have imagined. 

Brothers Unite - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 6

Steven has an air about him that's just hard to stomach at times. He's arrogant and condescending, and while his grief is understandable -- all the Crain children's grief is -- there's something about Steven that that makes him unrelatable. 

His frustration with his father has been building and brewing for years, and when it explodes, it's impossible to look away. Seriously, every second within the funeral parlor is fascinating. 

From the way Hugh moves from viewing his kids as both adults and children to the various shots of Nell, now only seen in the form of the bent-neck lady, the cinematography in this episode, in particular, is spellbinding.

While siblings squabble and awkward conversations ensue, we're always keenly aware that there is a dead body just in the rearview.

Related: Get HBO via Prime Video Channels for Addictive Dramas, Hilarious Comedies & Hit Movies

Cutting away to another stormy night from the Hill House days was an interesting choice that came to fruition toward the end of the hour when we got our first glimpse of Olivia not at all like the nurturing woman we've gotten to know.

Comforting Nell - The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 6

With Nell's death addressed at least partially, the next big question is: what happened to Olivia?

She seemed almost possessed as she was walking around the hallways, disappearing from sight and then reappearing out of nowhere. What was happening to her?

It appears we still have to wait to get to the bottom of Olivia's story, but if the Nell reveal is any indication, we are in for quite the tale. 

Stray Observations

  • Kevin is annoying. I can't figure out why I find him so irritating, but I do. Of all the things I thought may be connected to that checking account, money from Steven's book was not one of them. That is indeed the ultimate betrayal for Shirley. Or is it?
  • Whatever was happening in the closet between Kevin and Theo was probably not what it looked like, but boy did it not look good. 
  • Who is the mystery guy Shirley keeps seeing in the funeral home? 
  • Hugh seems like a thoroughly battered, broken down man. I understand why he's on an island all alone, but I'd still very much like him to keep talking about Hill House and the things he's been hiding. 
  • Nell popping back up in the Hill House and lamenting that no one could see her and the bent-neck lady in the present day, unheard and unseen, was an eerily perfect ending to the best hour of the series thus far. 

Okay fanatics, now it's your turn to hit the comments with all your thoughts. Were you blown away by the Nell reveal? What is your biggest question moving forward? Are you as turned off by Steven and Kevin as I am?

Please leave me a comment down below so we can talk this all out as we chug along through this season. And make sure you watch The Haunting of Hill House online right now, so you don't miss a thing!

The Bent-Neck Lady Review

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Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

No, dear. Use your cup of stars. Insist on your cup of stars. Once they've strapped you into being like everyone else, you'll never see your cup of stars again.

Mrs. Dudley [to Nell]

Nelly: Did you find Mommy?
Hugh: I found her.
Nelly: Is she okay?
Hugh: She's okay now.