Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House debuted last month, and the Crain family story has left fans with a few burning questions long after the credits rolled.
Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name and brought to life by director Mike Flanagan, The Haunting of Hill House served up plenty of scares and heartbreaking twists (yes, we’re talking the Bent-Neck Lady reveal), but it was also chock-full of a number of mysteries. How did Hill House not catch fire? What is up with the Red Room? Did one fan-favorite character actually die?
Sitting down with BuzzFeed, series star and Crain family matriarch Carla Gugino delved deep into the critically acclaimed horror series, answering the most burning questions left on fans’ minds, and possibly even delivering a few more.
Keep scrolling to see what Olivia herself had to say about some of those burning questions season one brought up.
How does the Red Room actually work? Is the house set up like a maze like we see in the opening credits?
“Well actually, the set of Hill House was the most extraordinary set I have ever been on,” Gugino said. “They built an actual two story house in which we could walk everywhere in the house. And in fact, we did it all in one take in Episode 6, which you should see. So, in fact, the Red Room is always in the same location in Hill House. It's just that it manifests differently based on each person's psyche. So, basically it provides a space of solace for each person, which is different.”
“Obviously for Olivia it's the reading room, you know, for Theo it's a dance room, for Steve it's the game room etc, etc. So, the Red Room is actually where it is all the time, it's just that you can get in literally only in there,” she said.
Time seems to be happening all at once in the show, do you think that means Olivia was able to watch her kids grow up in some way?
“Absolutely,” Gugino said. “She's been watching the whole time. I would say that the scenes that you see evidence of that are Shirley, when she's grown up, and she has the model of the forever house in her office and you see as she goes up the stairs, the lights blink, as in come home. That's Olivia doing that. And then also, when Olivia crawls out from behind the desk when Theo and Hugh come in and you see that she's destroyed the forever house. So, she's there with them, the whole time.”
How much does the mold have to do with people going crazy inside Hill House?
“Definitely Mike Flanagan, our creator, [said] the more mold there is, the more mental disintegration is happening for sure,” Gugino revealed. “The further we get from reality and the more we start losing our minds definitely, metaphorically, the mold is growing, so it's sort of seeping in and taking over. And it's inescapable as black mold is. I have to say, for anyone, like, afraid of germs it was the most terrifying part of the house shooting, just seeing black mold oozing up the walls.”
When Luke sees Olivia in a version of the Red Room, did he actually die? And was she trying to convince him to stay?
“So, yeah, Luke dies for a moment,” Gugino revealed. “You know how people do sometimes; their heart will stop and then they'll come back. Olivia's pull is so strong and her love for her son is so strong and of course she thinks that she's saving him and finally he's home and out of this life of misery that he's been living but, Nell is very strong now too. And so, this is really a battle of wills between the two of them, both of them, fighting for what they perceive to be Luke's life and ultimately, Nell is able to pull him back to the real world.”
Did Olivia and Nell die of their own volition or did Poppy and Olivia, respectively, kill them both?
“So, this is really interesting. This is something that I talked to Mike [Flanagan] about a lot from the very beginning because in the script I wasn't even quite sure. Do I really jump? Do I not? Do I push Nell? Do I not?” she said. “I, being Olivia. I think we ultimately came to place where I think there's no question that neither of them would've fallen to their deaths on their own volition. There had to be that tap from Olivia in Nell's case or Poppy in Olivia's case. That tap of someone who had already crossed over to the other side that actually does push them. So, no, it's not of their own volition.”
Did Olivia feel genuine remorse for killing Abigail or was she too far gone to realize what she had done?
“Ultimately, for sure, Olivia feels that she's saving her children. So, initially, when Abigail is going when you see her frothing at the mouth, when she's actually going to cross over, I think Olivia is dead set on the fact that on the other side, she will be at peace,” Gugino said. “But, as you notice, if you watch it carefully, or perhaps again, when Olivia comes back up to the Red Room again later and is truly devastated because at that point she's in and out of being taken over by the house and trying to wake up, just trying to be there for her family. “
“At that moment when she sees Abigail, she is truly devastated and I think has no recollection of what she's done,” she continued. “But then, she sees Abigail walking off with one of the house ghosts and I think that is very key [because] then she's confused again. I think that's the thing with Olivia at the end, she's so uncertain about what is real and what's not real and what is truly saving her children and what isn't.”
Why was Olivia so taken with Poppy? Was it because of the vanity Steve gave Olivia?
“For sure, the vanity that might have once been Poppy's is part of it, but I think also, this is a more subjective answer, but since I played Olivia I will answer it, which is that I think Poppy really allowed Olivia in a moment where she's so unsure of what to do and she's getting so confused by the house and by being effected so much by the house and because of her migraines and all these things, she's just much more susceptible than anyone else and she's a mother bear at heart,” Gugino said.
“Poppy really gives her the assurance of a way in which she can save, especially the twins, from this horrible fate that she has foreseen because she has gone ahead and she has seen that one of them is having problems with mental health and one of them is an addict,” she continued. “So, she has seen this horrible fate and she really is trying to save them from it.
“So, the horror genre is a beautiful kind of way to allow us to talk about a lot of very real things in a heightened way. So in that sense, I think Poppy seems so assured that if she does this thing, the kids will be okay and at that point, she really believes her.”
Why didn't the gasoline work in the house? Was it the ghosts protecting the house or something greater?
“That is actually specifically Olivia,” Gugino revealed of the scene in which Luke travels back to Hill House in an attempt to destroy it for good. “So, he comes to find his mom, in a lot of ways, and she puts out the fire. So, because you know, he's finally home. For her, it's the happiest moment of her life. So yeah, that's Olivia's doing.”
Who do you think put the button's on Nell's eyes in the funeral home?0comments
One of the biggest mysteries of the series – how did those buttons on Nell’s eyes get placed there in a room full of people? As it turns out, ghost Olivia worked a little magic to pay a small tribute to her daughter.
“That also is Olivia because Olivia knows how much Nell loved her buttons and it's her way of sort of making Nell at peace,” Gugino said.