Netflix’s immensely popular horror series The Haunting of Hill House ended on an unpredictably happy note, when all four of the remaining living Crain siblings — Steven, Shirley, Luke, and Theo — all managed to escape from the house while their estranged father Hugh sacrificed himself to save his children. The series ends with a flash forward a year into the future when Luke celebrates two years of sobriety, surrounded by his family.
In the brief glimpse, it seems as if everything worked out for everyone. Steven has reunited with his wife Leigh, who is now visibly pregnant; Shirley and Kevin have also reconciled; and Theo is likewise back together with her girlfriend Trish, and the two are flashing wedding rings. All’s well that end’s well, right?
Well, maybe not.
In a recent interview with The Wrap, actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen who plays Luke, shared an ominous theory that the happy ending was not that it seemed, and that perhaps none of the Crains actually made it out of Hill House. When each of the siblings are experiencing their hallucinations in the Red Room, a small detail appears in red, “so slight you can barely even see it.” For Luke, he’s seen wearing black Converse sneakers the entire series, however in his hotel room fantasy scene with Joey, they’re red.
But here’s where things get really crazy:
“And so 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,” he continued. “Um, she went, ‘The cake is red.’ And on set I went, ‘Oh, my God!’ And she went, ‘I don’t know!’ And I asked Mike [Flanagan], and he went ‘I don’t know.’ And so I can’t tell whether or not I’m just crazy with this — or whether or not it’s something that could have legs.”
For a series that layered painstaking detail over painstaking detail, it does seem like a little too on the nose to be a coincidence.
Maybe, maybe not. When asked if viewers should trust the ending, Haunting showrunner Mike Flanagan told Thrillist last month that they had toyed with a less ambiguous detail that would have indicated that the Crains definitely didn’t make it out alive.
We thought Steven would reverse the vasectomy and that now he would be committed to having a family. But, um… 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. But the suspicion you had was exactly where we were, and that kind of makes me very happy.
In other words, interpret the ending how you will. Either way, it seems like this is the last we’ll see of the Crains, as Flanagan has said that even if the series is picked up for a second season, “the story of the Crain family is told” and “done.”
(Via The Wrap)