The horror genre has given fans tons of iconic settings, from The Shining's Overlook Hotel to Friday the 13th's Camp Crystal Lake to Cube's...cubes. And I think most would agree that one of the most terrifying locations of all is the specter-filled home at the center of Shirley Jackson's seminal novel The Haunting of Hill House, which was adapted with spine-tingling aplomb for Netflix by filmmaker Mike Flanagan. If you thought Hill House was done scaring its inhabitants, though, you are sorely mistaken, as Universal Studios has revealed its always excellent Halloween Horror Nights celebration is bringing the dark and deadly mansion to life for 2021!
The Haunting of Hill House is quite possibly my favorite horror TV series of all time, with Channel Zero and Hannibal riding its coattails, so my excitement for this year's Halloween Horror Nights likely doesn't isn't a huge surprise in context. But I don't even have to bring my love for the show to the table in order to point out at least three reasons why it's such a perfect maze for Universal Studios' next big fright fest. (And let's agree that getting a full-scale Halloween attraction is a better honor than hoity-toity awards, shall we?)
1. Hill House Is Incredibly Well-Designed
Even if you'd never watched The Haunting of Hill House or read its source material before, all it would take is a few cursory glances at the structures that Mike Flanagan's crew put together to fully appreciate how such a magnificent abode could be successfully scaled down for a Halloween Horror Nights maze. From the dark and imposing exterior to the wide-open foyer to the staircase to the statues to every other inch of the house that viewers saw on screen, Hill House was already the epitome of cinematic haunted houses going back to the 1963 feature from Robert Wise. But the house at the core of the Netflix series is the best of the best.
2. The Red Room
Hill House's theory-laden Red Room is arguably the most interesting area within the obsession-fueled location, and not only because it's at the heart of one of the show's many huge twists. The room itself changes as geared to whatever the occupant wants it to be, which is a really intriguing concept in and of itself. So I can't wait to see how Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights team spins that idea for the maze version, as I assume they won't just deliver the plainest no-frills version. What if the whole maze was just a series of Red Room fantasies? Maybe in 2022.
3. The Ghosts Are EVERYWHERE
Beyond the narrative, beyond the character development, beyond the performances, beyond the lush cinematography and beyond Mike Flanagan's nifty direction, The Haunting of Hill House wins my dread-loving heart for how well the home's ghostly population is embedded into the aesthetic throughout the entire season. No matter how many ghosts and ghastly visions you witnessed during your first viewing, there are likely still a plethora of moments where you didn't notice spooky figures and unexplainable shadows lurking in the background and just around the corner. The gives Universal Studios' creative teams a huge canvas to work with as far as how and where to set up big scares, both with inanimate ghosts and with its human performers, and the announcement confirmed that fans will get to see such marquee ghouls as the Bent-Neck Lady, the Ghost in the Basement, the Tall Man and more!
I could probably keep that list going all day, since I think The Haunting of Hill House deserved to be immediately adapted into Halloween-themed attractions after its release. So it's been somewhat frustrating to see Netflix continue giving all of its non-TV horror-tinged experiences to Stranger Things, as much as I agree that the buzzworthy hit definitely deserves most of that attention. Still, with Mike Flanagan having already taken the franchise further with The Haunting of Bly Manor, along with continuing his Netflix relationship with the upcoming horror series Midnight Mass and The Midnight Club, it's high time his top-tier genre efforts are appreciated in ways that don't involve watching a screen.
Check out the trailer for The Haunting of Hill House's Halloween Horror Nights maze below!
While exact dates are yet to be set for when park-goers can visit The Haunting of Hill House in full, expect for Universal Studios to announce the select September and October dates in the near future, along with all the other new and returning mazes that Halloween Horror Nights will boast in 2021. And here's hoping Carla Gugino is involved somehow, perhaps as a hologram.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.