“Hilda” – House In The Woods EPISODE REVIEW
Posted 4th February, 2023
In this episode of Hilda, Hilda ends up lost in woods with the Woodman. The two of them explore around, searching for a way to help Hilda get back home, and come across a strange empty house. Said house grants wishes to it’s residents! All they have to do is think or say what they want, and the item puffs into existence. It sounds like a great treat, but then we learn that the house locks it’s visitors inside, and there doesn’t seem to be a simple easy way out.
I’ve currently been binging episodes of Netflix’s Hilda, as part of research for my upcoming video on 2010’s British Cartoons. This was the first episode that I felt inspired to actually write about, which is saying a lot when the show has been a blast so far.
I already love the dynamic between Woodman and Hilda. A plucky little girl with a “Let’s get on with this” attitude paired with a laid back and dry Woodman is a recipe for funny chemistry, Hilda’s impatience clashing with the Woodman’s optimistic reaction to being trapped in a wish house.
It’s also fun seeing what characters exactly wish for, because it says a lot about their desires or tastes. I especially liked when they didn’t say what they wanted, and their thoughts spoke on their behalf. These wishes get even more fun when more of Hilda’s friends arrive at the house, causing the wishes increase and diversify.
The episode is rich in tension too, because Hilda’s mom is worried sick at home, and her daughter can’t simply walk back. At the same time, Alfur and Raven have been assigned as rescuers by Hilda’s mom, so they must be anxious to not let down their friend’s mother. You really feel that a lot is at stake just by the simple end goal of Hilda getting back home.
There’s this charming cosiness to the house, but also a dark mystery at the same time. Things get especially sinister when any attempts at escaping are met with surrealist space-shifting. I was whimsically enchanted by the idea of a house that grants you anything, yet also apprehensive WHY the house was so eager to spoil it’s prisoners.
Is this a Hansel & Gretel style witch? Is the house a lonely sentient being? Are our characters trapped in another dimension? I really like that we never know in the episode, so it’s up to the viewers to speculate what’s going. I kind of hope that the series never explains it, because it adds some intrigue to Hilda’s fantasy lore.
This isn’t just a wacky weird fairy tale story though. The whole experience does make Hilda question where her home really is, and if she’s letting her nostalgia cloud her from admitting that Trolberg is also her home now. Being stuck inside a house that’s trying artificially simulate your home will do that.
All in all, this is my favourite episode so far, and I’ll be surprised if anything tops it. Then again, I’m only 11 episodes in, so maybe it’s too early for me to consider this the show’s peak? We’ll have to see!