The ending of 'The Haunting of Hill House' explained

15 October 2018, 18:19 | Updated: 12 December 2018, 13:10

Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Netflix's 'The Haunting Of HIll House' was the perfect slow burn but audiences still have questions about the episode 10 ending. Did Hugh die? Was Olivia really evil? And what was the power of the red room?

The Haunting Of Hill House is certainly one of the most compelling and moving Netflix shows this year. The intricately woven storylines and perfectly hidden ghostly apparitions make it an excellent pre-Halloween watch. The slow burn nature of The Haunting of Hill House builds to a final episode that somehow manages to leave viewers with as many questions as there are answers.

The Haunting of Hill House Ending Explained
Picture: Netflix

Why did the Red Room make them have nightmares?

At the beginning of The Haunting Of Hill House episode 10, each sibling is seen having a disorienting dream that confronts them about the weaknesses in their character. Steve's selfishness, Shirley's infidelity, Theo's closed off nature, and Luke's drug addiction are all addressed in these dreams.

But why do they each have these dreams and how is the Red Room connected?

Red room haunting
Picture: Netflix

In Luke's episode, he talks about taking a "fearless moral inventory" as a part of his road to sobriety. The Red Room's nightmares are, in a way, a fearless moral inventory of each of the Crain siblings.

When Nell's ghost comes to talk to them in the room, she explains its function and its ability to manipulate what's inside of it. "It put on different faces so we'd be still and quiet while it digested. I'm like a still creature swallowed whole by a monster, and the monster feels my tiny little movements inside."

When the ghost of Poppy Hill taps them on the forehead and sends them into the dreams, she is also tapping into the room's ability to warp and manipulate reality.

Why couldn't Luke burn down the house?

luke fire haunting of hill house
Picture: Netflix

Simply put, the house defended itself. Hill House had the power to make its residents see things, harm themselves, and behave strangely. Fire was simply no match for the ghosts of Hill House.

Another reason the house couldn't be burned down is because Hugh promised the Dudleys that he wouldn't. In episode 10, when Hugh vowed to burn the house down and salt the earth, Mr. Dudley stopped him, explaining that the house was "full of precious precious things and they don't all belong to you."

They wanted to return to see the ghost of Abigail, which is why Hugh insisted earlier in the series that the Dudleys remain on the property even after the horrific night Olivia died.

Why did the dad, Hugh Crain, stay in the house? Did he die?

Hugh Crain
Picture: Netflix

While it is not shown on screen, it must be assumed that Hugh dies in the house. While speaking to Olivia's ghost, he says that he "would have followed [her] right into the darkness," if not for the children.

Anything that dies in the house lives on as a ghost so it can only be assumed that Hugh, Nell, and Olivia are now ghosts who live in Hill House.

Was the mom, Olivia, evil?

This is a bit complicated. Obviously, Olivia does not start out evil. In fact, she is a great mom to all of her kids. Throughout the series, we learn that Olivia is "sensitive" to otherworldly things, an ability which manifests itself in the form of headaches and visions.

While Olivia is good in the start, her sensitivity to the house's ghosts begin to have an effect on her. Poppy Hill is able to manipulate her using the fear of losing her children which eventually drives her to try and take their lives. When Hugh stops her, she is left in the house as a ghost, still fearing that her children are suffering.

Olivia Haunting of Hill House
Picture: Netflix

Olivia's actions are evil because she poisoned a little girl and orchestrated Nell's death but whether she is evil herself is up for debate. Eventually, we come to understand that Olivia is motivated by the house's evil, her eventual loneliness after her death, and the fear of knowing her children are suffering.

Olivia is a complex character, to say the least.

Why did Mr. Dudley bring Mrs. Dudley to the house at the end of the episode when she is dying?

Mrs. Dudley haunting of hill house
Picture: Netflix

Anyone that dies in Hill House stays there as a ghost. Mr. Dudley's two children were there as ghosts and so he brought his wife there so they could be there together forever.

"Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

These are the last words spoken in season one of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. This is also part of the first paragraph of Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel of the same name. Though minor differences exist between the original text and the voice over narration, this is the whole paragraph which opens and closes the series.

"No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for a hundred years before my family moved in and might stand a hundred more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

Haunting of Hill Housw
Picture: Netflix