The Haunting of Hill House
subtle and unsettling projection
Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Sonia Friedman Productions, HAMMER
This adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 psychological thriller foregrounds the role of the mysterious Hill House itself, and the effect that this strange building – home to more than its fair share of family tragedies over the course of its habitation – has on the delicate psyche of Eleanor Vance, the troubled young woman who takes up residence in the house as part of doomed academic study into the supernatural.
59 Productions collaborated closely with set designer Miriam Beuther in order to bring the mysterious house to life. Relying more heavily on suggestion rather than any explicit horror effects, the team augmented the dark and ethereal physical set using discreet mapped projection onto almost all of the still and moving objects and surfaces. The patterns in the wallpaper shift insidiously and almost imperceptibly before our eyes, revealing traces of forgotten faces and writing scrawled on walls. Stone gargoyles shift subtly in alcoves as unseen lights move around them. Shadows of invisible children pass through the rooms, doors are shaken by unseen hands and an untamed beast is loose in the house.
Using a combination of 3d modelling, 2d animation and live-action filming, the 59 team wove subtle and unsettling projection elements through the whole piece, allowing director Melly Still to guide the audience into the disturbing psychological realm of Hill House, and watch as the wits of Eleanor and her fellow guinea pigs unravel through the ever-changing corridors of this malevolent mansion.
‘Famously hard to get right, horror theatre might be about to enter a new era. Video design is changing theatre and, for the first time, actors and animations can convincingly occupy the same world. It makes all manner of unearthly things possible and, were The Haunting of Hill House not so brilliantly acted, 59 Productions’ projections would steal the show. Immaterial and spectral, possibly even subliminal, projections change the speed and scope of theatrical spooks. Technology hasn’t been this terrifying since John Henry Pepper lined his mirrors up just right.’
Composer and Sound Designer