Steven, Shirley, Theo, and Luke may have escaped the Red Room, but not every character was as fortunate in season one of The Haunting of Hill House, which saw a number of characters fall victim to the home’s paranormal antics.
Throughout the 10-episode first season of the Netflix horror series, based on Shirley Jackson’s 1953 novel, the series follows the Crain family, whose lives were upturned after they moved into Hill House for a single summer in 1992. The house, having already claimed a number of lives, would soon claim more, it later being revealed that the mansion was more like a living organism.
“Mom says that a house is like a body. And that every house has eyes, and bones, and skin, and a face. This room is like the heart of the house. No, not a heart. A stomach,” Nell says in the finale. “But it was always the Red Room. It put on different faces so that'd we'd be still and quiet. While it digested. I'm like a small creature swallowed whole by a monster. And the monster feels my tiny little movements inside.”
Hill House’s constant hunger led to the deaths of a number of characters, all of whom fell into the Red Room’s trap.
Keep scrolling to see every victim that Hill House claimed in season one of the Netflix series.
When the Crain family moves into Hill House, Olivia, the Crain family matriarch, is the home’s first target. The Red Room easily creates a façade to keep her comfortable as it, in the form of Poppy Hill, pushes her closer and closer to her breaking point.
“Losing a child. Do you think there’s a thing worse than that?” Poppy asks at one point.
That question, combined with glimpses of Luke and Nell’s deaths in the future, ultimately push Olivia to do the unthinkable: she attempts to poison her children. In her attempt to wake Luke and Nell up from their nightmare, however, she is caught by Hugh, sending the family fleeing and ultimately resulting in Olivia jumping from the spiral staircase.
Olivia’s attempt to wake her children came at more than just the price of her own life. Before Hugh is able to reach her and knock the teacups out of the children’s hands, Abby already drank her tea, which was laced with rat poison, and she dies within the walls of the Red Room.
Abby’s death is the reason that Hill House is still standing. Hugh, determined to destroy it and prevent it from claiming anymore victims, is convinced by the home’s caretakers and Abby’s parents, the Dudleys, to protect Hill house so that they could continue to visit their daughter’s spirit.
A sleep-study tech, Arthur became the first person to truly listen to Nell and her concerns regarding the Bent-Neck Lady, who he helped her stop seeing for years. Ultimately, it was Nell’s trauma that cost him his life.
When Nell’s “sleep paralysis” returns, he attempts to coax her through the episode as the Bent-Neck Lady hands over them. He dies after he turns and sees the entity, though his death was ruled the result of an undetected aneurysm.
“He was dead. He was dead, and she was back,” Nell told Dr. Montague of Arthur’s death, though Dr. Montague summed up the return of the Bent-Neck Lady as a figment of her imagination brought on by her husband’s death.
So distraught by Arthur’s death, Nell attempted to find confirmation that his death was caused by the Bent-Neck Lady, forcing Theo to touch the exact spot where Arthur had died. His death ultimately drives Nell back to the place she had been prior to meeting him and eventually leading her back to Hill House.
Eleanor "Nell" Crain
Nellie’s death serves as the driving force of the series, being the event that brings the Crain’s back together and forces them to confront their past at Hill House.
The youngest of the five Crain siblings, she returns to Hill House after the Bent-Neck Lady returns. Upon her arrival, the home transforms from the abandoned structure that it truly is and back into the place she had first stepped foot into all those years ago. It allows her to relive her wedding as she dances through the home and Olivia is waiting there, scrawling “Welcome home, Eleanor” in red chalk on the wall, calling back to the very note she had accused Nellie of writing on the wall as a child.
Hill House, in the guise of her mother, eventually leads her to the staircase and convinces her into putting the rope around her neck (the very rope Hugh had been concerned about when they first moved into the home), kisses her on the forehead, and pushes her to her death and through time, giving way to the biggest twist of the series: she was the Bent-Neck Lady all along.
Throughout the series, Hugh’s focus was on protecting his family. He failed to protect Olivia and lost his children in the process, but in the season finale, “Silence Lay Steadily,” he makes the ultimate sacrifice.
With his remaining living children trapped in the Red Room and him still unable to open the door, Hugh makes a deal with Olivia, promising to take his own life and commit his soul to an eternity at Hill House if she opens the door and lets Steven, Shirley, Theo, and Luke go.
His death opened Steve’s eyes to the truth of their final night at Hill house during the summer of 1992, and meant that the responsibility of the home, which now contained the souls of Olivia, Hugh, and Nellie, fell onto Steve.
While the Hill House proved to be an evil force within the Crain family, it offered hope to the home’s caretakers, the Dudleys.
In the final scene of the series, an elderly Mr. Dudley is seen carrying his wife, Mrs. Dudley, through the forest at night and to Hill House, breaking their rule to never step foot on the property after nightfall. There, he lays Mrs. Dudley at the foot of the staircase, where she takes her final breath.
Her death in Hill house, like all of the others, meant her soul would forever be trapped there. Her death, however, meant that she was reunited with Abby and her child who had died as an infant.
Steven, Shirley, Theo, and Luke may have appeared to have made it out of the Red Room at the end of the season, but there is looming possibility that they could still be trapped, their happy ending simply a concoction of Hill House to keep them sentient as it digests them.
Director Mike Flanagan has previously stated that his original intent was to end the series with the Red Room’s window present in the background of the final scene, and while he ultimately chose to go a different route, Oliver Jackson-Cohen recently stated that they Crain siblings may not have actually gotten their happy ending.
“There’s this thing that happens when we’re all in the Red Room,” he said in a recent interview. “Whenever each child, each sibling, is in the Red Room, something in the fantasy is red. And it’ll be a very, very small thing. For Luke, when Luke gets taken to the hotel room, he’s worn Converse throughout the show, and all of a sudden his Converse are red. And it’s so slight you can barely even see it. And I think Steven is wearing a red jumper [in his fantasy.]”
According to Jackson-Cohen, and as first brought to his attention by Kate Siegel, the final scene, in which the family is celebrating Luke’s two-year sobriety milestone, also contained something red: the cake. This means that it is entirely possible that the Crains are still in the Red Room, slowly being “digested” and soon to have their souls forever reunited with the remainder of their family.
Hill House Ghosts0comments
Fans may have seen a handful of characters die, but there were a number of others who died off-screen and long before the Crain’s ever set their eyes on Hill house.
When the Crain family moved into the residence, the home was already occupied by a number of ghosts, including several that appeared multiple times throughout the series, such as Poppy and William Hill, the couple who had built the home. Director Mike Flanagan also hid dozens of other ghosts throughout the 10-episode first season, meaning that it’s likely Hill House saw a few more deaths within its walls before the Crain’s moved in.