Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Culture Tuesday: The Haunting of Hill House VS Stranger Things

While I enjoy our family's Netflix subscription, I am very much not into the horror genre, therefore it is somewhat odd that I'm "going there" today, but here I go!  I have not seen many of the classics of the 80's and 90's that fall into this category.  I have seen one (count it ONE) zombie movie-- Shaun of the Dead-- and one (count it ONE) episode of The Walking Dead.  To say I'm grossed out easily is an understatement and I really don't like to be scared.

Furthermore, despite his popularity, Stephen King made me shudder so much I swore him off after the movie The Green Mile.  I do not feel safe with him, so leave me to Flannery O'Connor all day for the grotesque, and worldview.  I do not need to read any more of King's novels. I'm goo. HOWEVER, when it comes to entertainment, I have seen and appreciate E.T., The Goonies, and Star Wars, so I can appreciate Stranger Things.

Today I'm going to share why --as probably most people in the world will agree-- Stranger Things is far superior to The Haunting of Hill House.

Read on if a) You don't mind spoilers! or b) You never plan to watch these shows! :)  or c) You've already seen them.

I'm going to make quick commentary of genre, characters, themes, and the conclusion of each respective show.  Here we go!


Thriller vs. Genre-bending Mystery

The Haunting of Hill house creeped me out and made me feel thoroughly unsafe.  I would characterize this scary story as ICKY.  From dead monsters, to creepy eyeless characters, to post-autopsy, there are things I will never be able to unsee, and therefore I would never rewatch this show.  Meanwhile, I have been rewatching Stranger Things-- the whole first season recently-- and somewhat to my surprise, it has been absolutely delightful.  The thing is, (and Stephen helped me put my finger on this) Stranger Things really doesn't fit into the horror genre. It is more of a mystery thriller with elements of horror, by design but not by default.  Ultimately, it crosses over into pop instead of crap!


 Children vs. Tweens

The characters in Stranger Things are a DELIGHTFUL (there's that word again) throw-back to The Goonies and I dearly love them for it.  The Duffer brothers really nailed a time and place - and instead of making you feel cheated, or underwhelmed, you feel SO WARMLY NOSTALGIC for another time.  All of the hallmarks of that era of pre-cell-phone comes back and you leave feeling enchanted. The only way to describe the feeling is to remember vividly this scene from E.T. Eleven (played so brilliantly by Millie Bobbie Brown) that elevates the show from clever to classic. Meanwhile The Haunting of HH goes between the main characters as young children and adults. They play on the trope typical in horror of innocent children doing STUPID things in effort to be brave and then totally creeping the viewer out.


Icky tactics vs.  Fighting Evil

While The Haunting of HH is full of icky scare tactics like dead bodies and creepy monsters and over-the-top haunted-mansion tropes, Stranger Things has a definable evil, and it is the thing we are all fighting against. The shadow monster, the demagorgon: together the kids have to figure out what the Upside Down is and who/what/where/why the monster is trying to destroy them. There is a camaraderie as the kids -often cheerfully and with a tremendously kind demeanor toward one another- rescue their friend and fight against it, using ingenuity and their sweet, complicated plans.

Conclusion of the shows

Fear baggage vs. Fighting a real threat together

I love how the ST characters work together and are slowly but simultaneously figuring out what the Upside Down is all about.  While the characters in The Haunting are fighting their own baggage, in seemingly lost and sinful ways, the kids in ST fight a real threat together and find unity. I love how well the Duffer brothers have mined the gold of this age grouP!!  Scars vs. courageous acts.

My Conclusion

Dread vs. Delight

As I said I am purely enchanted by the music, the pal-feeling you get, and the genuine script of ST. The difference, ultimately, is the memory of a time and place, rather than the trauma of a time and place. I felt dread and disdain from The Haunting of HH.  As I wrap up and close, may you find the courage of the children to be something that ultimately takes you to a higher place.  Rather than pity, may you yourself be elevated by the kindness, to go forth and make your own magical creative piece.

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