Haunting of Hill House ending fan theory

Some people love coming up with fan theories after they take in a particular type of entertainment, but here’s one fan theory everyone is going to have to let go. Mike Flanagan, director of Netflix’s fantastic The Haunting of Hill House, is officially putting to bed a popular fan theory about the show’s ending. Read about the Haunting of Hill House ending fan theory below, and of course, beware of spoilers.

First, a super-quick summation: located in the haunted Hill House is a mysterious chamber known as the Red Room. In the last episode, we learn that the Red Room has the supernatural ability to transform itself into whatever the haunted Crain family desires – a dance studio, a library, a treehouse, and so on. The Crains are able to escape Hill House (well, mostly), and we’re treated to a montage of the characters moving on and living their happy post-Hill House lives. But some viewers have theorized that this montage is an illusion, and the Crain family is still trapped in Hill House’s Red Room, unaware that the house is playing tricks on them.

But that’s not the case, according to director Mike Flanagan. Flanagan, talking with TV Line, clarifies that he’s not against fan theories in general, but he also says that if the fan theory were correct, it would rob the show of much of its dramatic weight, and also make the death of patriarch Hugh Crain at the end kind of meaningless:

“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. In this case, though, the ending can be read at face value. . . . If they’re still in the Red Room, it robs Hugh’s sacrifice (and the show itself) of any meaning. For me, it ends exactly as it appears to.”

I loved Hill House, but I actually found the final episode to be a bit lacking. That said, I agree with him that the happier ending works better. But here’s the thing: the fan theory was almost correct. As we reported in the past, Flanagan revealed that he toyed with this twist idea briefly, before deciding against it. Every time someone is in the Red Room, a vertical window can be glanced in the background. At one point, Flanagan considered inserting that window into a scene, to tip the viewers off:

“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…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.”

This should put this particular fan theory to rest. But like unquiet ghosts who have yet to slip beyond this mortal coil, fan theories have a way of sticking around, so don’t be surprised if some viewers hold onto it.

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