Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House is hardly light viewing, which you probably picked up on from the show's multiple kitten deaths. After it made us bear witness to a pseudo-ghost known as The Bent-Neck Lady (only to have that particular apparition be the centre of one of the show’s most mind-boggling and disturbing twists), it ended far happier than most fans expected.
After the Crain siblings find themselves trapped in Hill House’s “Red Room” (or, really, rooms), their dad Hugh (Timothy Hutton) makes the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that the house allows his children to leave — and live.
At the end of the season, the Crain kids are shown leading Hill House-free lives — but some fans aren’t so sure that the house ever let them go. Given the twisty nature of the Shirley Jackson adaptation, some are convinced that the Crain children have been digested by the house’s "stomach." The lives the Crain family perceives are nothing more than a Hill House-created illusion.
Is this dark twist the real ending of The Haunting of Hill House’s first season? Breathe easy, fans, because according to the show’s creator, the Crain kids are alive, well, and no longer seeing red.
“If [the Crain siblings are] still in the Red Room, it robs Hugh’s sacrifice [and the show itself] of any meaning,” creator Mike Flanagan revealed to TVLine. “For me, it ends exactly as it appears to.”
“We toyed with the idea for a little while that over that [final monologue], over the image of the family together, we would put the Red Room window in the background,” Flanagan told THR. “For a while, that was the plan. Maybe they never really got out of that room.”
Rest assured: The living Crain family members did get out, even if their parents and poor sister Nell (Victoria Pedretti) weren't so lucky.
Also of note: Should The Haunting of Hill House receive a season 2 order (Netflix has yet to pick up the show for a sophomore season), the Crain kids will likely not return to their old stomping grounds.
"The story of the Crain family is told. It’s done," Flanagan told Entertainment Weekly in October. "I felt like the Crains have been through enough, and we left them exactly as we all wanted to remember them, those of us who worked on it."
It may not be a traditional happily ever after, but hey — at least most of the Crains aren't trapped in a literal prison of their own darkest memories. That's something, right?