The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan is aware that fans of his Netflix horror show have scanned every moment of footage for hidden meanings and visual sleights-of-hand. He says he enjoys viewers’ dogged conviction to unearth the truth of what really became of the Crain family. But he’s also here to (gently) shut down any rumblings that the lives of Steven, Shirley, Theo and Luke didn’t play out as they appeared to in the last few minutes of the Season 1 finale.
“I’ve said a lot about the ending, and I’m reluctant to say more. I like that people are able to put their own spin on things, so I’m not eager to take that away from them,” Flanagan tells TVLine. “In this case, though, the ending can be read at face value.”
Ardent viewers of Flanagan’s adaptation have cited various moments in the season finale — such as Olivia’s stare as Hugh and Nell reunite in the Red Room — as evidence that perhaps the Crain saga doesn’t have as happy an ending as previously thought. Even series star Oliver Jackson-Cohen stoked fan theories when he recently noted that in the finale-ending flash-forward, the cake celebrating Luke’s second year of sobriety had red frosting… and red was a prominent color in the Red Room fantasy scenes. Could that mean that the Crain children actually are still trapped in the house, and that their escape was part of another elaborate reverie?
In a word? No, Flanagan says.
“If they’re still in the Red Room, it robs Hugh’s sacrifice (and the show itself) of any meaning,” he explains. “For me, it ends exactly as it appears to.”
In addition, the EP says he’s “tickled” to hear people call the finale’s outcome “uplifting.”
“Hugh is dead, Nell is dead, Olivia is still dead,” he says. “I always looked at it as just having a hint of peace, just a glimpse into the fact that life goes on, and there’s some acceptance for the surviving characters,” he adds. “Acceptance, peace and a little forgiveness doesn’t lessen the loss they experience in that episode; it only shows that life has a way of going on, and that these characters are finally accepting of that.”
Did you have any suspicions that Hill House didn’t end the way you thought it did? Let us know in the comments!