In its first two series, Netflix horror anthology series The Haunting has already taken on arguably the two most iconic haunted house stories of all time – Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (which inspired The Haunting of Bly Manor) – providing inventive and moving modern updates to both of these classic works with some terrifying frights along the way.
As yet, a third series hasn’t been officially announced, but given the streaming platform’s apparent commitment to turn The Haunting into an anthology, it would seem unlikely they would stop after just two instalments. Of course, it could be a while before we get another one – series creator Mike Flanagan already has two additional separate Netflix projects in the pipeline, Midnight Mass and The Midnight Club, but in the meantime we’ve done some digging to suggest which classic haunted house tales he could turn to next.
We’ve started with a few suggestions from the Victorian era, a period which has a stellar reputation for ghost stories – notably including the aforementioned The Turn of the Screw. Should Flanagan opt to stick in this era then he has frankly an embarrassment of riches to choose from…
Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Old Nurse’s Story is one such option – published in 1852, the short story sees a Nurse tell the three children in her care of a horrifying event from her childhood while visiting Furnivall Manor, her mother’s ancestral home which is home to a mysterious painting and a phantom organ player.
Or perhaps he could go for Charlotte Riddell’s The Open Door, about a mansion in which a door won’t stay shut, and a protagonist who is determined to keep it locked and find out what went on behind that door?
Or another possibility is M. R. James’, Lost Hearts, which follows an orphan who arrives at the home of a distant relation to find that the two previous children to stay there had gone missing in mysterious circumstances.
All of these would be great options with a lot of potential, but given Flanagan has only just visited the Victorian era for inspiration I suspect it might be wise to find source material from another period. An interesting ghost story could be made about the summer of 1816 in which Mary Shelley, Lord Byron et al holed up in a Swiss mansion, leading to Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein – but of course Doctor Who got there first with the excellent series 12 episode The Haunting of Villa Diodati. Flanagan could perhaps take similar material and take it in a different direction, but with the Who episode still very fresh in the memory it might be better to look elsewhere.
With Jackson and James already covered, Flanagan may decide to turn his attention to another legend of horror fiction, none other than HP Lovecraft. If he were to do so, the best option might be a revisionist take on 1937 novella The Shunned House. This work focuses on a man and his uncle who become fascinated with an abandoned and dilapidated house which had mysteriously caused the illnesses and deaths of various residents over a hundred year stretch.
After discovering a bizarre yellow vapour, they decide to spend the night at the house in order to identify the possibility of supernatural activity, and of course all sorts of haunting discoveries – including classically Lovecraftian monsters – are made.
Or perhaps the next series could lie in the work of a more recent horror legend: Stephen King. Flanagan has already got experience of taking King books to the big screen, and last year helmed Doctor Sleep – an adaptation of the sequel to one of the author’s most enduring works: The Shining. Which begs the question – could The Haunting take on not just a haunted house but a haunted hotel?
Of course there is already Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film (which King famously dislikes), but so far Flanagan has not been put off by works that have already been adapted for the screen – indeed both Jackson’s novel and James’ novella have previously been made into extremely famous films (1963’s The Haunting and 1961’s The Innocents respectively).
Plus, given the nature of the series, which tends to deviate from the source material and take it in a new direction, there is plenty of potential for doing something rather different. So, The Haunting at The Overlook Hotel, anyone?