One tiny detail in the final episode of The Haunting Of Hill House might change the meaning of the ending
Did you spot it?
Spoilers about one of the most watched and most favourably reviewed shows of the year. Obviously.
The Haunting of Hill House brought us through 10 hours of an incredibly well-written, well-directed, well-acted family drama with a supernatural tinge, with so many hidden nods and Easter eggs that we imagine people will still be discovering some of them for years to come.
One of them involves the Red Room, the always-locked room on the top floor of the house which the entire family have all previously visited multiple times without any knowledge they'd been in there.
Viewers may have picked up on the fact that every time we were shown the Red Room, the same framing would appear, as would something - anything - red.
For example, when it was Young Luke in his treehouse:
Red truck, and that window in the middle of the room.
Same goes when it was used towards the end of the show, with Liv hosting a tea party with Nell, Luke, and Abigail:
Same camera angle, same window, clearly the same room, but without the "disguise" of pretending to be something else.
And so, we go to one of the final shots of the entire show, with the family re-united to celebrate Luke's second anniversary of being fully clean:
Same angle. Something red. (That cake looks good, though!) And while the window is slightly different, the painting takes up pretty much the same spot, and the same shape.
Obviously that isn't enough to say for certain that, 'Yes, they're actually all still stuck in the Red Room all this time later', and even the folk in the show seem at odds about it.
Oliver Jackson-Cohen told The Wrap:
"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.
"There’s something at the end - it was Kate [Siegel], who plays Theo, who kind of pointed it out to me - with Luke’s sobriety cake. She went, 'The cake is red.' And on set I went, 'Oh, my God!' And she went, 'I don’t know!'"
Jackson-Cohen said he went to showrunner Mike Flanagan and asked him outright, but even Flanagan apparently told him, "I don't know".
However, Flanagan spoke to Thrillist, and told them that his opinion is slightly more positive, deciding not to put in the exact same window in order to give the potential of a slightly happier ending.
"I ultimately decided not to," he said.
"It was too cruel. But there was a lot of talk that this peace might not be real. In the version we ended up going with, I think it absolutely is real."
So it could be a visual reminder that this family will forever be attached to that house.
Or they're all dead and unbeknownst to them, they're celebrating a ghost birthday.