The Haunting of Hill House is quickly becoming the next big hit series for Netflix, but the show's horror-themed look at the Cain family's drama over the span of decades has some viewers confused about how the secrets and reveals synch up in the larger arc of the show's storyline.
Here we will break down one of biggest mysteries and reveals in The Haunting of Hill House: the terrifying "Bent-Neck Lady" that haunts Eleanor "Nell" Crain/Vance, ultimately resulting in the girl's tragic death, and one of the show's most pivotal events.
Obviously, Massive SPOILERS follow - so only read if you want to know!
Episode 5 of The Haunting of Hill House takes a deep dive into Nell's backstory, and her lifelong terror of "The Bent-Neck Lady". Throughout the series up to that point, we were told that the mysterious ghostly entity haunted Nell, specifically, when she was a young girl; she grew up and fell in love with Arthur Vance, a medical tech helping her with her sleep paralysis. One night, when Arthur suffered a fatal aneurysm during one of Nell's paralysis episodes, Nell was convinced the Bent-Neck Lady was responsible.
After Arthur's death Nell began to go down a spiral of depression, which her therapist advised that she could end by returning ot the place where her psychosomatic troubles first began: i.e., return to Hill House. Like when the Crain children were young, Nell's troubles and pleas for help go unheard by her siblings, and she makes her way back to the house, in order to face her demons. Unfortunately for poor Nell, Hill House has been waiting a long time to harvest the meal it had been cultivating in her: when she returns, the house tricks her with visions of her long lost love Arthur, and convinces her to climb the same spiral staircase and hang herself from it, just like her mother Olivia (Carla Gugino) did when Nell was a kid. Upon dying, Nell finally discovers the secret behind the Bent-Neck Lady, and it's more horrific than she could ever have imagined.
One of the biggest lessons of The Haunting of Hill House is that a ghost's existence doesn't follow the laws of space and time that we understand in our mortal existence. When Nell dies her soul is consumed by Hill House and trapped there forever, and in that moment, the ghost of Nell flashes back to key moments of significance in her own life (that first night she spent in Hill House, the night Arthur died, etc.) and she realizes to her horror that she has always been the Bent-Neck Lady. The bent neck was how her ghost appeared after the violent hanging from the staircase, and the spectre was the form of her mourning.
Nell's ghost visits other characters in key scenes throughout the season, ultimately becoming the saving grace of her siblings, when Hill House tried to take them, as well.
Did you like the reveal about Hill House's Bent-Neck Lady? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! And if you missed it, here are all the secret ghost cameos you missed!
The Haunting of Hill House is now streaming on Netflix.