WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for The Haunting of Hill House, streaming now on Netflix.
The finale of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House ties together a lot of loose ends left dangling over the course of 10 episodes. Not only do audiences learn the secret behind the haunted house and its Red Room, they also see the Crain family finally coming together to fight the ghostly threat that's followed them for much of their lives.
Inspired by Shirley Jackson's celebrated 1959 horror novel, the story of The Haunting of Hill House unfolds primarily in two periods: the summer of 1992, when Hugh and Olivia Crain (played by Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino) temporarily move into an old mansion with their five children, and 2018, as the adult Crain siblings and their estranged father struggle with the repercussions of what they experienced there. When tragedy strikes, they're forced to return to the haunted house to confront the skeletons they've kept locked away for 26 years.
The House Makes a Compromise
When the Crain children become trapped in the mysterious Red Room, where they're faced with their own failings, family patriarch Hugh (Timothy Hutton) reveals who's keeping them there: their late mother Olivia, who died 26 years earlier, on the night the rest of the family fled Hill House. She wants them to die in the room so they can live forever with her as ghosts, and not suffer the horrors of the real world.
Hugh warns her that the best a parent can do is allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them. And so, he cuts a deal with her by overdosing on his medication, having promised to remain with her and their dead daughter Nell (Victoria Pedretti) in exchange for allowing their other children to leave. The Red Room convinced Olivia that all children belonged there. But after agreeing to the deal, she's reunited with Hugh, indicating his company is more than enough to keep both her and the house satisfied, for now.
The House Must Live On
The rest of the Crain siblings escape, but Hugh asks son Steven (Michael Huisman) for a favor, now that ownership of Hill House will pass to him as the eldest. Hugh begs him not to destroy the mansion, because other ghosts exist there in peace.
Steven is confused, as he was convinced the house was the source of his family's pain. But when he learns Olivia didn't only try to poison Nell and her twin brother Luke all of those years earlier, she killed the daughter of the caretakers, Abigail Dudley, he understands why his father didn't demolish the building. The house allowed the Dudleys to maintain a connection to their daughter, and in exchange, they kept Olivia's actions secret. Steven agrees, recognizing that amid these generations of ghosts, there are bonds of love existing within the structure.
The House Does Offer a Happy Ending
The final scene focuses on the two years since Hugh's death at Hill House, with the siblings celebrating Luke's (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) sobriety. Steven has reconciled with his wife, Shirley's (Elizabeth Reaser) marriage is still going strong, despite her infidelity, and Theo (Kate Siegel) is in a committed relationship, hinting they learned their lessons from Hill House and began loving each other, fulfilling the promise they made to their father.
With the Crain ghosts also living in Hill House now, it seems there is a happy ending, further compounded by Steven's closing monologue about "ghosts who walk there, walk there together." Juxtaposed to his words, we also get a flashback of an old Mr. Dudley placing his dying wife in the house, just so she can carry on as a ghost with Abigail, along with her older daughter, who died as a baby. That leaves us wondering if, when the time comes for the rest of the Crains to die, they'll return to Hill House to pass into the afterlife, just so their ghosts can be reunited with the rest of the family.
Now available on Netflix, The Haunting of Hill House stars Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Henry Thomas, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, Timothy Hutton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Lulu Wilson, Victoria Pedretti, Mckenna Grace, Violet McGraw, Paxton Singleton and Julian Hilliard, with Annabeth Gish.