haunting of hill house alternate ending

Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House scared up good reviews and positive buzz, but an alternate ending director Mike Flanagan had in mind might have changed the way the show was received. The horror series ends on a surprisingly positive note (especially when compared to the bleak ending of Shirley Jackson’s source material), but at one point, the series would’ve concluded in a scary, and downright depressing way. Learn about the Haunting of Hill House alternate ending below…if you dare. Spoilers follow.

I loved The Haunting of Hill House, although I’ll admit that the final episode was a bit too heavy-handed in its hopefulness. Complete with a montage set to twangy acoustic guitar music, it slightly tarnished what was otherwise a fantastic, scary, emotional series. That said, now that I know the alternate, and more downbeat, ending Mike Flanagan once had in mind, I’m perfectly content with the current ending.

To recap: in the final episode, the living members of the Crain Family become trapped within the cursed, haunted Hill House. Throughout the series, the family could never open a locked door to get into a mysterious Red Room. But in the final episode, we learn that everyone was able to go inside the Red Room after all. They never realized it, though, because the Red Room would change itself to resemble whatever the Crain children wanted – a treehouse, a dance studio, a family room, and so on. There’s a visual clue to this twist all throughout the series: every time a character is in one of these locations, the same rectangular window can be spotted in the background.

Red Room Window

Hill House concludes with the majority of the Crain Family escaping from the haunted mansion, and putting their lives back together. But at one point, Mike Flanagan considered throwing in a last-minute twist that would’ve altered everything. First, some set up: during the montage showing the Crain Family recovering from their traumatic time at Hill House, we see a moment where drug addict Luke Crain is surrounded by his family, applauding him for now being 2 years sober. Here’s a screenshot.

2 years sober

There’s nothing outwardly ominous in this shot, but according to Flanagan, he came very close to inserting that rectangular window in the background, in the spot where a large framed painting now rests. “One thing I can say is that we talked for a very, very long time about putting the Red Room window, that weird vertical window, in the background of this shot. And I ultimately decided not to. It was too cruel,” Flanagan told Thrillist. “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. We committed to that course of action.”

Had this happened, the implication would be clear: the Crains never escaped Hill House. They’re still trapped inside, living in a paranormal delusion. While this would’ve been a creepy (and upsetting), I think Flanagan ultimately made the right choice going with a happier ending.

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