Come on down to the Haunting!
Rambling Man ...
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against the hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
This is the first paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s haunted house classic, “The Haunting of Hill House,” which I will address Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. in a book club meeting at the Dublin Public Library.
Adina Dunn, head librarian, grant guru and a personal friend for more than 15 years, approached me nearly a year ago about leading a discussion and it was the first thing that popped into my head for both its prose and its plot.
A month later, I learned that a Netflix series was announced based on the book.
I felt a bit deflated realizing that the series would be at the forefront of everyone’s mind when looking at the book. (I guess that my desire to be original or a “non-hipster” still remains from high school.)
Then, it came out.
I’m well-known to my friends as a fan of scary stories so I had a few call me up specifically to talk about it.
“So there’s this new show on Netflix…”
I winced and listened to what they liked about the show.
As I listened, I realized that the plot was changed… a lot.
Characters from one era of the story are merged elsewhere. The major plot of the book (investigators trying to prove the supernatural presence inside the historic estate) is nowhere to be found, instead focusing on the family living in the house that is thought to consume and trap people who die within its walls.
At first, I was frustrated that this new story had changed so much and that nobody I talked to even realized it was based upon a classic novel.
If I hadn’t already liked the writer and director, Mike Flanagan, I might not have watched it. But I did. And it’s one of my favorite seasons of television as it stands on its own as a gripping family drama that happens to feature ghosts.
There’s also a lot of reverence for the source material as major themes are addressed in new ways.
This series is at least the fourth time the novel has been adapted to the screen with 1963’s and 1999’s “The Haunting” films keeping the name and Stephen King’s “Rose Red” acting as an unofficial adaptation that starts very faithful until the psychic vampires show up.
The premise of the book is good enough that all of these adaptations stand up in their own way and at least one (the original “Haunting”) is recognized as a classic of the horror genre.
With a rich atmosphere and strong characters, the book is one that has been retold time and again and it’s always fresh. Copies of the relatively quick read are available at the library, and everyone is invited to the discussion.
Gaudette is the managing editor at the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and firstname.lastname@example.org .