'Haunting of Hill House' Ending and Red Room Explained

Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House has gone on to become a big hit, proving that horror-themed television is every bit as capable of critical acclaim and trending buzz as any one of the top dramas on broadcast or streaming.

Haunting of Hill House is built around several big mysteries and secrets hanging over the Crain family, and by the end of the series the answers all come into view - though it does require viewers the connect the dots of clues sprinkled all throughout the season. We've already broken down one of the earliest mysteries (the terrifying "Bent-Neck Lady"), as well as some of the secret meanings behind the main character storylines and secret ghost Easter eggs. Now that viewers have had ample time to watch the series, we're going to talk about The Haunting of Hill House ending, and the revelation of what the ominous "Red Room" is all about.

Warning: Major Spoilers follow!

The Past

The Haunting of Hill House Ending Explained Spoilers

In the climatic episodes of Hill House, Hill House itself is revealed to be an entity that feeds of the souls of the mortals inside its walls, and it used visions of terrible futures for Olivia's youngest children, Nell and Luke, to push her to brink of sanity. One ghost named Poppy Hill (Catherine Parker) was insane when alive and murdered her own children; it is Poppy who is especially insidious about steering Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino) down a dark spiral, which ultimately leads to her death.

We learn that Olivia was an ESPer, and that power made her more susceptible to the seduction of the supernatural forces in the house, and the ghosts that reside there. Poppy convinces Olivia that her visions of the future are part of a nightmare she's trapped in, and that "waking up" can be achieved through some dark deeds. Once Olivia is under Hill House's sway, the ominous (and seemingly locked) "Red Room" of Hill House opens to allow her to bring Luke, Nell, and Abigail, the daughter of house caretakers The Dudley's, for a fatal "tea party" using tea laced with poison. Abigail dies a horrible death, but Hugh Crain (Henry Thomas) arrives in time to stop his wife from killing the twins (Luke and Nell). Hugh takes all of the children and flees from the house before Olivia can harm anyone else.

With her family gone, Olivia is easily seduced by Hill House into taking her own life by leaping off the spiral staircase which led to the "Red Room, in order to 'wake herself up' from the nightmare. When Hugh eventually returns, Olivia and Abigail are both ghosts, condemned to roam Hill House forever. The Dudley's make Hugh promise to never reveal Abigail's death or sell Hill House - but rather to keep it locked up forever so no other family gets hurt, while the Dudleys get to see their ghostly daughter whenever they want. Hugh reluctantly agrees, and carries the burden of the truth about Olivia with him for the next few decades until his children are grown and resentful of him.

The Present

Haunting of Hill House Ending Explained Red Room

When Nell (Victoria Pedretti) returns to Hill House as an adult, she is fooled by the spirits inside of it into taking her life just like her mother did, this time hanging herself from the spiral staircase. When Luke eventually returns to burn down the house, the malevolent spirits (like Poppy) intervene, taking Luke and trapping him in the Red Room. The older Hugh (Timothy Hutton), Steven (Michiel Huisman), Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser), and Theo (Kate Siegel) all return to Hill House in pursuit of Luke, yet all are attacked and entranced by the house, which has been waiting to finish feed on them, for decades.

Steven, Shirley, and Theo find themselves trapped in the Red Room with Luke, and have to each face a nightmarish hallucination that plays upon their respective deepest secrets and personality flaws. Each of the remaining four Crain children is saved from death in these entranced states by the ghost of Nell, who uses the bonds of love and acceptance to zap each of siblings at of fantasy land. Outside of the Red Room, Hugh Crane is also attacked, but vows to the ghost of Olivia that he will be the sacrifice Hill House wants, so long as his children go free. The terms are accepted, and Hugh dies saying one last goodbye to Steven, who is the only one who pieces together the whole truth about what happened, as well as the true nature of Hill House.

The big truth about the Red Room is revealed to be that it serves as "the stomach" of the living entity that is Hill House, and had lured each member of the family inside, by appearing as something different to each of them. To Luke it was a treehouse; to Theo a dance studio; to Shirley a living room; to Olivia a reading room, etc. Each family member thought they were in a place of comfort, but were unknowingly being "digested" by the house. Since Olivia was the most "sensitive" to the supernatural influences, she was the one who cracked first. However, until the Crain children return to reconcile with their past, and break the hold the house had over them, their lives essentially crippled by the troubling connection to the house that still remained.

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With the connection broken, and the skeletons literally and figuratively out of the closet, The Haunting of Hill House ends with the Crain children finally being able to move on and live happy, fulfilled lives.

The Haunting of Hill House is now streaming on Netflix.