The Bent-Neck Lady is Not Cool, Man
Hello. I am a thirty-year-old man who, only days ago, made frightened squeaking and gasping noises at my television as I repeatedly slammed the back of my head into my couch like a boxing glove into a punching bag. I blinked in disbelief, muttering “no, no, no, no” in delayed chorus with the television speakers.
Afterward, I spent a moment in suspended consciousness, my mouth roughly the shape and size of a melting hula hoop, trying to process what in the fuck had just happened.
The next episode automatically started to play. How could they think that we would possibly be ready?—that I would be ready?
I paused the episode. I reached for a cigarette—wait, I don’t have any cigarettes—wait, I quit smoking two years ago. I got up, turned on the lights, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and finally set aside my shock to appreciate the psychologically terrifying brilliance of what I’d just seen—Nell, haunting herself, the whole time.
Once I had regained my composure, I clicked my seatbelt back into place and pressed play on the next episode. What followed was the second-best hour of television I’d watched in months.
I’ve seen quite a few folks tout the sixth episode, Two Storms, as the best in the series—and considering the avant-garde cinematography, it’s no surprise. But Two Storms didn’t visit me in my dreams. I didn’t wake up the next morning thinking about the continuous shots; the various jump-scares; the well-acted dramatic dialogue; the sight of Nell’s coffin spilling onto the floor. I woke up and I thought of the Bent-Neck Lady. I went to work and asked everyone I encountered that day if they’d been watching The Haunting of Hill House and what episode they were on, so I could talk to them about the Bent-Neck Lady. I am sitting here, several days later, typing about the Bent-Neck Lady and I really don’t even know what I’m trying to say.
The last moments of The Bent-Neck Lady are sixty-seven seconds of television that I will never forget. I’ve added one more terrifying scenario to my list of horror-movie-inspired possibilities.
Now, among the passing vignettes of witches, ghosts, ghouls, and demons who may haunt the vision of my third-eye, I’ll ponder the possibility of being haunted by myself. Maybe I’ll haunt myself in the way of Nell—my death-mask meeting my living face—or maybe it will be the reverse and my past self will meet my future one, suspended above my conscious and horrified face in a graphic replay of the moment I met the Bent-Neck Lady, pissing and shitting myself and squeaking and gasping and saying “no, no, no, no, no…”