Haunting Of Hill House, a spooky new Netflix series based on the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel, has arrived just in time for Halloween.
If you’ve been watching, you may have found that the story, about a family who spends a summer in the most haunted house in America is super scary — but just looking at the titular hill house is also enough to give you a vague feeling of foreboding. This, as it turns out, was highly intentional.
According to Mike Flanagan, the show’s director and showrunner, the house used in the show was engineered specifically to make its viewers uneasy.
How was that accomplished, you may ask? It started by finding the perfect house to use for exterior shots.
“It’s one of the strangest buildings I’ve ever seen,” Flanagan told SFX magazine of the house, which was found in the woods in Georgia. “You look at it from one angle and it looks Victorian, very angular and clean. From another angle it looks medieval — it has these stone turrets that don’t make any sense! Once we found it, it really inspired the production designer for our interior build.”
Flanagan told Vulture that the interior set was built as “fully functional” two-story house on a soundstage in Atlanta.
Part of this “full-function” involved, uh, literally putting faces in the walls to stare at the cast (and you).
“There was so much care put into the tiniest of details, most of which you’ll never notice on-screen,” Flanagan told Vulture. “I used to be fascinated just looking for all of the hidden faces he put into the design. Every inch of that house is staring at you, quite literally. Even the handles on the desk drawers had faces.”
The placement of the windows against the fireplaces in the house were also meant to mimic a face with a gaping mouth.
“We laid out eyes and an open mouth in all the rooms,” Flanagan told SFX. “It’s a subconscious thing, but it creates this sense of unease.”