It's impossible not to get wrapped up in the Crain family's twisted drama when watching The Haunting of Hill House, but if you didn't pay attention to all the tiny details in each scene, you probably missed some fun easter eggs. So much went into making Netflix's hit horror series, and the behind-the-scenes stories about how the show came to life are just as interesting as the Crains' ghostly adventure. If you already loved the show, these Haunting of Hill House behind-the-scenes facts will give you plenty of reasons to rewatch it one more time.
The Haunting Of Hill House debuted in 2018 on Netflix. A loose adaptation of the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, the first season depicted how living in the ghost-infested Hill House continued to affect the lives of the Crain family years after they moved out. After Season 1 ended, showrunner Mike Flanagan confirmed the show will continue as an anthology series, with Season 2 being titled The Haunting of Bly Manor and centered on a completely new story with all new characters. That means The Haunting of Hill House will stand alone as its own, completed story. Before diving into the series' next ghost story, here are all the most fun and surprising details about Season 1 that you may not have known.
1. Luke's E.T. lunchbox is a special shoutout.
When young Luke is drawing in his treehouse, viewers see he has a lunchbox themed after 1982's E.T. That choice wasn't just to denote the time period, but also to subtly pay tribute to a Hill House star. Henry Thomas, who starred as the young Hugh Crain in Hill House, is best known for his role as Elliott in E.T.
2. There are ghosts hidden everywhere.
If watching the show felt especially eerie to you, it might be because you sensed a ghostly presence in many of the scenes even when it wasn't obvious. The season is filled with ghosts hidden in the backgrounds of several scenes, many of which are very difficult to notice unless you're looking for them. Vulture put together a list of nearly 30 hidden ghosts in the show, but eagle-eyed fans might be able to find even more in a rewatch.
3. The ending was originally going to be much darker.
One of the most surprising aspects of The Haunting of Hill House was that unlike other horror shows, it actually had a happy, uplifting ending. That was not always the case, though. Flanagan told The Hollywood Reporter the show was going to include a revelation that the Crains were all still stuck in the Red Room at the end, but he decided to against it after spending so much time with the characters:
We toyed with the idea for a little while that over that monologue, over the image of the family together, we would put the Red Room window in the background. For a while, that was the plan. Maybe they never really got out of that room. The night before it came time to shoot it, I sat up in bed, and I felt guilty about it. I felt like it was cruel. That surprised me. I'd come to love the characters so much that I wanted them to be happy. I came in to work and said, "I don't want to put the window up. I think it’s mean and unfair." Once that gear had kicked in, I wanted to lean as far in that direction as possible. We've been on this journey for 10 hours; a few minutes of hope was important to me.
4. The Crain siblings represent the five stages of grief.
A popular fan theory around the show is that each Crain sibling represents a different stage of grief: Steve's stubborn skepticism makes him denial, Shirley's outbursts and grudges emphasize her anger, Theo's constant rationalizing epitomizes bargaining, Luke's resignation characterizes depression, and Nell's climactic death scene shows her acceptance of her fate. While Flanagan didn't outright confirm this theory, he noted it was a "good catch" by fans.
5. Theo's fall in Episode 6 was especially scary.
The sixth episode was undoubtedly the standout episode of The Haunting of Hill House, having been shot in only five or six lengthy tracking shots. During the tense family fight, Theo gets drunk and stumbles to the ground, which was an especially scary moment for both Flanagan and actor Kate Siegel, since they had just learned Siegel was pregnant. Flanagan and Siegel are married IRL, and the showrunner revealed they'd learned Siegel was pregnant with their second child the night before filming that fall scene.
6. Theo's actor named her actual daughter Theo.
While Siegel's pregnancy during the filming process was nerve-racking at times, her part on The Haunting of Hill House went on to inspire the name of her daughter. Flanagan and Siegel named their second child Theodora after her mom's character.
7. There is a full history of Hill House that wasn't filmed.
Viewers only got a few glimpses into Hill House's ghostly past, but originally, the house's history was meant to be explored much more in the show. Flanagan told Entertainment Weekly he had to scrap the plan of beginning every other episode with a deep dive into the house's origins after realizing it would take too much time and money:
We had actually written and planned to shoot a complete history of Hill House. Every other episode would open with about a five-minute history thing narrated by Steven, from his book ... We had built a really complex history of the Hill family that we ultimately didn’t shoot. We didn’t have the time or the money to shoot it, which really broke my heart at the time, but we figured if we had to focus on anything, we had to focus on the Crain family.
8. Nell's casting was an unconventional surprise.
In the director's cut DVDs, Flanagan revealed he cast Victoria Pedretti as Nell off a self-tape she'd submitted that normally would not have gotten a casting director's attention. Flanagan recalled Pedretti didn't have a résumé or even a current headshot, and even though it was her first acting job, he felt he had to cast her as Nell when he watched her tape.
9. Theo's ending was even happier than fans realized.
Theo had a hard time opening up to people, but she seemed to overcome that in her relationship with Trish. One detail that was very easy to miss in the show's finale episode is that Theo and Trish are both briefly shown wearing wedding rings at Luke's sobriety celebration, indicating they ended up either engaged or married.
10. That jump-scare genuinely scared the actors.
For a horror show, The Haunting of Hill House didn't have many moments that would make viewers scream, but there is one major jump-scare in Episode 8. While Shirley and Theo are fighting in a car, the ghost of Nell suddenly popped up between them and screamed. Fans weren't the only ones startled by the moment; Flanagan revealed he asked Pedretti to pop up much earlier in the scene than it was scripted to get a real reaction from Siegel and Elizabeth Reaser. "Elizabeth and Kate were just in the scene and they knew they had another half page of words to get through before Victoria would appear, and she just bolted up right in the middle of their lines, and so their reaction is completely genuine."
There are so many fun details hidden in The Haunting of Hill House, fans may want to give it a rewatch to get a new appreciation for all the intricacies. Although the Crains won't be back for a second season, fans can look forward to a new ghost story when The Haunting of Bly Manor premieres on Netflix later in 2020.