'The Haunting of Hill House' Director Mike Flanagan Opens up About the One Episode That Made Him Cry

Netflix’s breakout horror series, The Haunting of Hill House has had its fair share of emotional moments throughout its first season, but director Mike Flanagan is opening up about the one episode that made him cry.

In an interview with The Wrap, Flanagan reveals that the jaw-dropping, fifth episode known as “The Bent-Neck Lady” focusing on Nell’s (Victoria Pedretti) life, was one that made him very emotional and reduced him to tears.

“I remember when the idea for Nell’s arc with the ‘Bent-Neck Lady’ occurred to me, I started crying. In a lot of ways, that episode was why I wanted to make this show,” Flanagan said.

In the episode, it is revealed that the ghost haunting Nell as a child was in fact her own after she dies as an adult, alluding to the fact that time is not linear. With the episode acting like the “heart of the show” among its 10-episodes, the director says its arch lends itself to some giant twists and a bittersweet story for the family.

“It completely changes everything that came before it. We make a lot of assumptions about the show and about the ghosts and come from a place of jaded familiarity with the haunted house genre, so this turns that on its head… but more than anything, it’s about what it does to a character that we cannot help but to deeply empathize with,” he said.

Flanagan goes on to share that it “was the reason” he wanted to make this show, adding how it slides right into his other favorite episode of the series, “Two Storms.”

“Those two episodes together represent the pinnacle of this story for me,” he said.

Fans of the series might recall episode 6 bringing the Crain family together at Nell’s funeral, with multiple long takes in the past and present from when the family lived in the haunted Hill mansion.

Though critics and fans are loving every bit of the series and doing multiple rewatches, many have also voiced their love for the sixth episode, which is being touted masterful filmmaking due in part to its immersive long takes that Flanagan revealed was a series of one-shot takes — the longest being 17 minutes.

During the scriptwriting process, Flanagan said in a Netflix featurette detailing production of the series that he “realized a lot of the camera choreography needed to be incorporated into the draft itself, because we were doing 18-page scenes without any cuts.”

The director goes on to say how he “wanted an episode that would appear to take place essentially in real time, in one single shot.”

“It turned into a challenge unlike anything else I've ever had in a production,” he continued. “The set had to actually be constructed with this episode in mind — we knew that we had certain shots that were going to require us to walk through the house in its entirety.”

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All 10 episodes of The Haunting of Hill House season one are available for streaming on Netflix. While you’re watching, see if you can spot the many hidden ghosts Flanagan placed throughout the episodes.

Photo credit: Netflix