The Haunting of Hill House may be a horror story, but the deeply emotional scenes throughout are enough to bring tears to viewers’ eyes.
Content Warning: This article contains mention of suicide, substance abuse and sexual abuse.
Netflix’s The Haunting Of Hill House, and its sister series, The Haunting Of Bly Manor, took the internet by storm when they were released. The slow burn of mysteries being unfolded was enough to make viewers binge-watch all 10 episodes to see how the characters handle the supernatural possessions and familial secrets that plagued them.
A huge part of what makes audiences so passionate about these shows is their emotional backbone. They’re not simply jump-scare-filled haunted house stories; The Haunting of Hill House tells the tragic story of a broken family and is full of moments that pull at the audience’s heartstrings.
Shirley Prepares Nell For Burial
The show started with heavy gravity when the family suffered their first loss. Nell, one of the younger sisters of the family, tragically takes her own life in the pilot episode. Twisting the emotional knife, Shirley offers her funeral home to host Nell’s funeral and insists on handling the preparation herself.
She tries to stay emotionally distant, even speaking on the phone with Steven while she’s opening Nell’s chest cavity. But when Shirley has a flashback of Nell on her wedding day while she’s doing her funeral makeup, she finally breaks down in tears at the loss of her little sister.
Theo Learns The Real Story Behind “Mr. Smiley”
Theo has a very complicated relationship with her special abilities – so much so that she wears gloves to have minimal contact with people and objects. The one place she does use her “sensitivity” is her job, and she uses it to help children overcome their fears and trauma. Theo is seeing Kelsey, a foster child being haunted by “Mr. Smiley who lives in the basement.”
When Theo goes to the home to touch the surroundings to find out the truth, she has to live through Kelsey’s assault at the hands of her foster father. She cries and writhes in pain, feeling sympathy and anguish for what Kelsey really went through.
Nell Watches Arthur Die
When Nell met Arthur, he was the only professional that really understood and listened to her about her sleep paralysis. When they were together, he would even talk her through it, and she suffered much less frequently after they met.
Tragically, as Nellie has a paralysis episode, the love of her life has an aneurysm two feet from their bed and the Bent-Neck Lady appears for the first time since meeting him. Panicking and sobbing, she fights against her own body and throws herself from the bed to his side. But it’s too late.
Joey Leaves Luke On The Street
Luke put a lot of trust in Joey, crediting her for much of his recovery. When she leaves rehab unexpectedly, he chases after her, determined to help her as she helped him. After he finds out that she relapsed, she takes advantage of his affection for her and distracts him with a kiss to steal the money he got for a hotel from Steven.
Luke is left out alone, freezing cold and with aches all over his body. He’s robbed and beaten by a group of men, and followed by the Tall Man from his childhood. He has tears in his eyes as he shivers and counts to seven over and over again, willing the man to go away, but he doesn’t.
Steven Sees Nell’s Body
As the oldest of the siblings, Steven is the leader of the Crain pack, although not the most intelligent and often the most emotionally distant. He thinks too logically about things and is always at odds with Shirley about the trauma they suffered at Hill House. Steven keeps his composure at many times that his younger siblings don’t.
He even takes care of Luke and talks him through seeing Nell at the funeral home, walking Luke up to her. What viewers don’t expect is the crack in his armor when he himself sees his little sister’s corpse. He stalls, choking out a sob and stumbling backward, shaking and panicking. To make matters worse, he turns to look back at Nell and sees the ghost of his mother.
Theo Apologizes To Shirley
On their way to try and stop Luke from going back to Hill House, Theo finally breaks down and begs Shirley for forgiveness for seeing her in the wine cellar with her husband. She drops to her knees in tears, trying to explain her reasoning, and reassuring her that Kevin pushed her away. Theo talks about touching Nell’s body and not being able to feel anything afterward.
She was encompassed by numbness and loneliness. She couldn’t feel grief or any emotion at all. When the power went out, she couldn’t see or feel and feared that death felt like that. She said the only thing that brought back her feeling was the shame she felt after trying to kiss Kevin and the fear that she would lose the only sister she had left.
Abigail Was The Dudleys’ Daughter
Abigail was a mystery throughout Hill House, and many of the characters were skeptical of her existence. When it’s finally revealed that Luke wasn’t imagining Abigail and she was real, she’s quickly lured into a deadly tea party with Olivia during the family’s last night at Hill House. Viewers later find out in the finale that Abigail was the Dudleys’ daughter, who they tried to vigilantly protect from the world after losing their first child.
She snuck out to have a sleepover with Luke. When they come to the house to look for her, Hugh has to lead them up to the Red Room to show them what Olivia had done, and they are heartbroken. The Dudleys plead with Hugh to keep the house so they can stay with Abigail’s ghost, and he agrees.
The climax of the season has all of the Crain children locked in the Red Room and living their own personal nightmares. Nell saves them, one by one, but during Luke’s, he’s stuck with a needle by Joey, and that overdose transfers into real life. As everyone wakes up, they try to resuscitate him and nothing seems to be working.
Olivia had brought him into a secondary Red Room, telling him he had “woken up” (died), but he fights against it and Nell’s ghost saves him. When he wakes up, she’s still there with everyone, revealing the secrets of the room. Each sibling makes peace with Nell, apologizing, and she tells Luke he has to live. As an added sadness, Hugh sacrifices himself to the house so that the kids can be let go.
Olivia Tries To Kill Nell & Luke
Olivia underwent a strong change after moving into Hill House. Her sanity broke down the longer they stayed there. She confused reality with dreams, and had the voice of Poppy Hill in her ear, convincing her that the only way to keep the twins safe was to prevent them from growing up. Towards the end, she had constant tears in her eyes, consumed with fear.
In a daze, she takes the twins, and Luke’s friend, Abigail, from their beds and throws a tea party laced with rat poison. Abigail is the only one to drink it and dies. When Olivia realizes what she did, she is so desperate to wake up from the “dream” that she throws herself off of the staircase.
Nell Becomes The Bent-Neck Lady
The most heartbreaking moment by far in the season is Nell’s suicide, who deserved a lot more from her ending. She felt isolated and alone. When she reached out to her family, no one wanted to help her. She’s haunted by time-lapses and visions of Luke’s death. When she decides to go back to Hill House, she is terrified. Then, she thinks she’s being reunited with her mother and Arthur, while all of her loved ones surround her in a false version of the house.
When she finally realizes what’s happening, she cries out for her “Mommy” as she’s being hanged. Viewers think it’s the end, but she drops again and stops at all of the most traumatic moments in her life. It becomes clear that she was the Bent-Neck Lady, the thing paralyzing her throughout her whole life.
Source & Credit: screenrant.com