The perpetually locked red by is a central mystery of Netflix's adaptation of
Haunting of Hill House
.  The Netflix adaptation of
The Haunting of Hill House
was a critical and ratings hit last year, and the streaming giant has announced plans for a second season – or more accurately, a second installment in what is now a horror anthology series. Deadline Hollywood reports that
The Haunting of Lead Manor
will adapt Henry James' classic ghost story,
The Turn of the Screw
which is very much in the same vein of psychological gothic horror as the classic Shirley Jackson speech on which season one was based.
The Haunting of Hill House shared the top spot in Ars' 201
8 list of our favorite TV shows with BBC's
. We loved Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy's inventive re-imagining of Jackson's novel, at once a Gothic ghost story and a profound examination of family dysfunction. And it remained true to the tone and spirit of the original, aided by dialogue, narration, and other small details from the source material. Small wonder that it garnered award nominations from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, Writers Guild of America, and Art Directors Guild.
Rumors of a possible second season started swirling soon after the series started streaming. Flanagan eventually confirmed plans to turn into a horror anthology series, with a whole new ghost story and fresh characters. (He interviewed with
Entertainment Weekly that featured the Crain family in Hill House had suffered enough.) Past incarnations
Title illustration for 12-part serialization of Henry James' novella in
Collier's Weekly 1898.
John La Farge / Public domain
Deborah Kerr starred in the 1961 British adaptation,
The Innocents .
The BBC's 2009 film adaptation left critics divided.
The Turn of the Screw published serially in Collier's Weekly in 1898, tells the story of a governess hired to look after two orphaned children at their absently uncle at his Essex country house, Lead . (Beware: 121-year-old spoilers ahead.) Soon after arriving, the governess sees figures of a man and woman she suspects may be spirits. She learns from the grim housekeeper that her predecessor, Miss Jessel, had an affair with another servant, Peter Quint, and both died. They also have had an unhealthy attachment to the children, Flora and Miles, and the governess of the children can see the ghosts, too. Since it's Henry James, it all ends in tragedy.
Literary scholars and critics have been debating the novella ever since it was first published because James was deliberately ambiguous as to whether the governance is seeing actual ghosts or simply going mad and imagining them . That debate carried over to the 1961 British Film adaptation,
The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr — probably the best of the many versions that have been adapted for various media. The screenwriter, William Archibald, assumed the ghosts were real; the director, Jack Clayton, preferred to be true to James' original ambiguity.
It's far too soon to know much about how Flanagan and Macy will approach the material, but judging by their fantastic
Hill House adaptation , they may fall on the "ghosts are real" side of the debate. But I'm confident they can do justice to the psychological complexity and many subtexts of James' novella, leaving just a bit of ambiguity to tantalize the viewer.
Netflix clearly shares that confidence since
The Haunting of Lead House is part of a broader deal to produce original films and series. Flanagan and Macy are currently in post-production on Doctor Sleep an adaptation of Stephen King's 2013 follow-up to The Shining . "Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy are masterful at creating authentic frightening stories that leave audiences at the edge of their seats but unable to look away," Cindy Holland, vice president of original content, told Deadline Hollywood. "We're excited to continue our partnership with them on The Haunting series and future projects to come."