One of this years most talked about series is The Haunting of Hill House. A modern take on the classic Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House, the show alternates between the present and the past to tell the story of the Crain family. After purchasing the grand Hill house, flippers Olivia and Hugh Crain instantly start construction so they can sell the home for a huge profit in hopes of buying a “forever home” for their family. Luckily for them they have their five children to help. It doesn’t take long for things to get unusual and after a tragic loss the now adult Crain children are still haunted by the ghosts of their past. Is Hill House trying to draw them back? Or is it simply all in their head?
Let me start off by saying that everyone must watch this show! It’s so haunting that even people that aren’t fans of horror can appreciate the beauty that is The Haunting of Hill House. From the beginning it’s obvious that Hill House is home to more than one pesky ghost. Even by the end of the season it’s unclear just how many souls are trapped in the walls of Hill House. But throughout the series a select few were given a proper name. So, in case you missed it or were too scared to finish the show, think of this as a beginners guide to the ghosts of Hill House: who they were and why they are trapped in the house.
This is your official spoiler warning!
The Bent Neck Lady
The very first ghost we are introduced to is a woman known as the Bent Neck Lady. Despite most of her being hidden in the dark, viewers can clearly see the outline of a young, slender woman with a bent neck. She is usually seen tormenting the Crain’s youngest daughter, Nell. Nell mostly encounters the Bent Neck Lady during her spells of sleep paralysis. This goes on well into adulthood with the exception of the few years she was with her husband Arthur Vance. But when Arthur dies suddenly the Bent Neck Lady returns with a vengeance. We eventually discover that Nell is the Bent Neck Lady, unintentionally haunting her younger self.
Zombie in the Basement
Okay, while this particular ghost was never properly identified, it is defiantly worth a mention. When the youngest son Luke is temporarily trapped in an undiscovered basement he, naturally, begins to freak out. It certainly doesn’t help that his flashlight seems to be malfunctioning, his parents are having trouble freeing him and there’s a zombie-like creature hurrying towards him Walking Dead style.
The Tall Man
The Tall Man is a towering presence that mainly torments Luke Crain. The unbelievably tall man that levitates despite the cane he uses to get around. It is theorized that he targets Luke because he took his bowler hat. It is later revealed that the Tall Man is the home’s former owner William Hill. William was a man described as mentally ill who died when he built a wall around himself somewhere in the house. Even as an adult, Luke still sees the Tall Man far too often.
Poppy Hill was William’s wife. The two met and fell in love in a asylum when they were young. When William accidentally killed himself, Poppy spent the rest of her life hiring private investigators to locate her missing husband. As a ghost, Poppy is young and wears 1920’s attire as she attaches herself to Olivia Crain. As mischievous as ever, Poppy convinces Olivia that the outside world is far too dangerous for her children and that murdering them was the only way to keep them safe.
Hazel Hill was the sister of William, shown as a bed ridden old woman that most likely died in said bed. Hazel wastes no time revealing how much she loathes her sister-in-law Poppy. In the middle of Olivia’s breakdown Hazel tries to be the voice of reason. She states how much of a liar Poppy is however her advice falls on deaf ears.
Eldest daughter Shirley Crain grew up to be a mortician and lives with her own family in a funeral home. It may not be surprising that she sees the occasional ghost in that sort of environment. So when Shirley randomly stumbles upon this suited man, one could argue that this was simply one of her customers raising his glass as a thanks for putting on a lovely service for him. It turns out this isn’t your typical ghost. The man is actually someone Shirley had an affair with years prior. His presence is simply a manifestation of her lingering guilt.
The Clock Repairman
Seeing as they wanted to flip the house it’s no wonder there were constantly people in the house making repairs. A clock repairman is seen multiple times throughout the season tinkering with the same clock, in the same spot. He always seems to be wearing the same outfit, doesn’t he? Overalls, that cap and his handlebar mustache. Hugh informs Steven that this man was never really there. And that clock he was always working? It had no evidence of any repairs since the 1960’s.
This wheelchair bound spirit was only ever seen once by Olivia. This unnamed child is the son of William and Poppy Hill who was apparently born as healthy as any baby could be. However, as he got older he lost the ability to use his legs and many other functions. In the end he could only communicate with anyone by banging on the walls when he needed something. This explains all the inexplicable banging the Crain children experience.
Abigail was originally thought to be an imaginary friend of Luke’s simply because no one else ever saw her. She appears to be around the twins’ ages with short blonde hair and simple clothes. Unfortunately the show’s last episode revealed that Abigail was not only real but the only daughter of the house’s caretakers The Dudley’s. It is only after Olivia poisons her that Abigail becomes permanently attached to Hill House.
The tragic loss that originally drove the remainder of the Crain’s to resent Hill House was the death of Olivia Crain. In her short stay at the house, Olivia’s mind becomes poisoned with all the supernatural activity that it nearly drives her to killing her children. As a ghost she is still convinced the only way to save her family is if they are all confined to the house together. In almost every episode she can be seen haunting her children, taking her husband and trying to bring everyone back to Hill House.
As previously mentioned it is unclear just how many poor souls are trapped in Hill House. But what most don’t notice is that many of those ghosts make an appearance. They’re just in the background. In a recent interview with Vulture, show creator Mike Flanagan commented on the creepy Easter egg: “We actually hid dozens of ghosts throughout the series, in plain sight, in the deep background of shots. We don’t call any attention to them, but they’re there. If you look in a door frame, or under the piano, or behind a curtain in a lot of otherwise ordinary scenes, you’ll see someone there,” And it’s true. Thanks to another article from Vulture you can clearly see some unsightly background characters you may not have noticed before. See for yourself here!