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Present and past collide in Hill House.

"There's a lot you don't know. I thought I could keep you kids safe if you didn't know, but for 20 years I've been holding the door closed because I knew there were monsters on the other side, do you understand me?"
Hugh Crain
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The Haunting of Hill House is a psychological and supernatural horror original series adaptation by Netflix, based loosely on the book of the same name by Shirley Jackson.

Twenty-six years ago, residential contractor Hugh Crain and his architect wife Olivia decided to try to remodel and flip a century-old mansion known as Hill House. They moved in early in the summer along with their five children (Steve, Shirley, Theodora, Luke, and Nell), and that's when things immediately started to get bizarre. Because it turns out that the House has a history of deaths and disappearances...

The story flips between the past and the present-day, as those who escaped the House many years ago struggle to cope with the aftermath... particularly when someone in the family is called back to the structure and the Crain family becomes entangled with it all over again.

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Not to be confused with House on Haunted Hill.

With its renewal for a second season, the show was retooled into an Anthology series, with each season focusing on a different haunted house. The second season, The Haunting of Bly House, will be an adaptation of the novel The Turn of the Screw.

The main characters:

  • Hugh Crain: a housing contractor and all-around "fix-it" guy, whose intentions to fix and flip Hill House led his family into the situation it became trapped in.
  • Olivia Crain: a talented architect, gifted with a bit of sensitivity to the supernatural — something she passed down to several of her children.
  • Steven Crain: the eldest Crain sibling and an aspiring writer, who always wants to do his best to help. (Whether that help actually turns out to be helpful is another matter.)
  • Shirley Crain: the Crain's eldest daughter, a mortician who runs a struggling funeral home with her husband.
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  • Theodora (Theo) Crain: the Crain's middle daughter, gifted with an unusual ability to read the truth of a situation or occurrence by touching something with her bare hand and who desperately tries to shield herself from her gift by hiding away in a pair of gloves.
  • Luke Crain: the youngest Crain son, twin brother of Nell, a drug addict who struggles with his own demons and trying to do right by his family.
  • Eleanor (Nell) Crain: the youngest Crain daughter, twin sister of Luke, who is being haunted by a entity she calls the Bent-Neck Lady.

And last but not least:

  • Hill House: The House often seems a character in its own right, turning and manipulating situations and people to achieve its own ends.

Tropes Used:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Due to the major overhaul and rewriting of the novel's original plot, Dr. Montague, one of the central characters in the book, is relegated to a One-Scene Wonder as Nell's therapist (played by Russ Tamblyn, who was Luke in the original 1963 film, no less).
  • Adaptational Heroism: While it is a loose adaptation, the Dudleys are kept intact in their roles as caretakers of the house. In the book, they're Creepy Housekeepers who give the protagonists vague warnings and seem like they're actually trying to scare them. Here they're shown in a much kinder light, and given extremely sympathetic backstories. Their first child was still born, and their second is eventually murdered by Olivia.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Olivia is so tortured by her nightmares and visions of her children dying that she takes advice from a ghost about how to protect them, especially her youngest twins. This leads her to attempt to serve them poisoned tea as a way of helping them "wake up" from their nightmares, which is Hugh's worst adult fear.
    • The Dudleys have their own worst fear realized: Olivia poisoned and killed their daughter Abigail in her delusional state.
  • Agent Scully: The oldest two of the children, Steve and Shirley, are this. They likely took their cues from their father, who was this too, at first.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Both Shirley and Theo in the present. Notably Nell has lighter hair than them and doesn't have this personality.
  • Anachronic Order: The series begins with establishing the presence of the Bent-Neck Lady, then jumps forward to events in the present day. The remainder of the series elaborates on how things are progressing in the present and how the past led to those current-day events. Lampshaded by Ghost!Nell.
  • Arc Words: Variations on "Home," such as "Come home", "Welcome home", "Forever home" and "I am home."
    • Also variations on “We need to keep our children here, safe from the outside world.” All the parents seen in the house seem to reach this conclusion. Of course, this line of thinking is a death sentence for all involved.
    • "I can fix this!" is Hugh's personal mantra, which he generally fails to achieve at least until his Heroic Sacrifice in the last episode. His children repeat it at various instances.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While the remaining Crains do end up united in the end after everything they've endured and suffered, the House remains standing with Nell, Hugh, Olivia and all the rest of its captives.
  • Barefoot Loon:
    • Once Olivia's sanity begins deteriorating she ceases wearing footwear almost entirely.
    • Poppy, who was diagnosed as insane in life, is now conspicuously barefoot as an insane ghost.
    • Inverted with Luke, who gets picked up by Steve wearing no shoes and appearing generally unstable - but he has simply been robbed and is suffering symptoms from "sharing" Nell's death through their Twin Telepathy connection.
  • Basement-Dweller: Theo lives in Shirley's guest house but she's a qualified psychologist and is working regularly enough to be able to afford a house of her own. In the finale she is seen finally moving out.
  • Big Bad: Hill House itself, arguably, although a case can be made for Poppy, the most malevolent ghost, who influences much of the tragedy that befalls the Crains and directly tries to make them "wake up" in the final episode; only Nell's interference stops her scheming. Played with in that the show also presents the house in a bittersweet, even hopeful light in the finale, allowing a bereaved family to at last become whole together in death.
  • Big Brother Worship: All of the siblings, but especially Luke, have this for Steven during their childhood. Getting traumatized by the events in Hill House, and general growing up, turn him into the Disappointing Older Sibling, with both Shirley and Nell angrily accusing him of not doing his "job" as the eldest.
  • Big Good: After she becomes a ghost Nell acts as this for her siblings as best she can, giving them valuable instructions and freeing them from the house's illusory traps.
  • Big Little Brother: Grown up Luke, the second youngest, is generally a lot taller than the rest of the family.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The living Crains manage to face their problems and move forward with their lives, but the House still stands with Nell, Hugh and Olivia and all the rest of its captives. The Dudleys are also wrapped up in its spell, becoming dedicated to living their afterlives in the house to be with their ghost children. The Crains and Dudleys even resolve to keep the House standing to preserve those inside.
  • Body Horror: There’s just something about episode 2. Its milder than you’ll see in a lot of shows, and its about as mundane as it gets, but somehow, that just seems to make it so much worse.
  • Book-Ends: The show opens with narration from Steve's Hill House book, ending with the line "And those who walk there, walk alone". However, the show ends with a similar narration, but the line ends with "And those who walk there, walk together".
  • Break the Cutie: All of the Crain children, but especially Nell. Dear God, Nell.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Luke's first Red Room vision in the finale shows him before a painting of a blue butterfly hanging on the wall. Indeed the House manages to kill him, but Nell succeeds in bringing him back to life.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Poor Nell. She gets married, everything is looking great and then it all just implodes. Then she dies. Then her spirit is held hostage by the house.
    • Luke is this as well: as a child, nobody believes his various claims of having a friend named Abigail or having encounters with ghosts, and as an adult, he's the family Black Sheep due to addiction. Turned Up to Eleven in his own episode, where he breaks out of rehab to help a friend, only to have her steal his money and abandon him in a less than savoury part of town, which leads to him getting beaten up and robbed of his jacket and shoes. As if this weren't enough, he keeps seeing a ghost from his childhood, and without knowing it feels Nell's death through their psychic connection.
  • Call-Back: A lot of lines are said in the show only to be brought back episodes later, most notably Olivia's speech about a dining room in the Crain's "forever house" being its "heart". Nell brings this back in the final episode where she reveals the Red Room isn't Hill House's heart: It's the stomach.
  • Cassandra Truth: The twins try to convey the supernatural dangers of the House to their parents and aren't believed, because clearly they are just small children with overactive imaginations.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Carla Gugino plays the mother of Kate Siegel. It had been the other way around in Gerald's Game.
    • Elizabeth Reaser plays the older version of Lulu Wilson. She had played Lulu's mother in Ouija: Origin of Evil.
  • Catapult Nightmare: The pilot has an impressive 4-way version when the siblings are startled at night because Nellie went to the Red Room.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
  • Character Focus: Each of the first five episodes focuses around the perspective of one of the main characters on the events that are transpiring. Episodes 7 and 9 focus on Hugh and Olivia respectively.
  • Cool Big Sis: Theo was this to the twins, especially Luke, when they were all kids. She takes on a similar role with her young patients as an adult child psychologist.
  • Cool House: Some of the design features of Hill House are amazing; if only it wasn’t an Eldritch Location.
  • Cool Old Lady: Hazel Hill, who is the only ghost to offer a positive, honest counterbalance to Poppy's evil.
  • Cool Uncle: Of the female variety: Theo is the Cool Aunt for her niece Allie, much like she used to be the Cool Big Sis for the twins when they were children.
  • Costume Copycat: Shirley's daughter Allie is seen walking around wearing gloves indoors, mirroring her aunt Theo. Shirley claims Allie begged her to buy them, which Allie, wanting to be as cool as her aunt, denies indignantly.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Most of the ghosts of Hill House seem to be this. While they are terrifying and creepy spirits, 80% of the time they seem more or less trying to scare the Crains into leaving the House, this is apparent with Hazel Hill, William Hill, the clock man and many others (Edward Hill as well despite attacking Luke). The most violent spirits seem to be Poppy Hill, who pushes Olivia into trying to murder her children and later on Olivia herself, although due to the manipulations of Poppy and the House.
    • After The Reveal, the Bent-Neck Lady retrospectively falls under this trope. At first she seems to be this scary, malevolent figure terrorizing poor Nell, but once you know that she is Nell, suddenly the sight of that decaying lady with the broken neck just becomes sad. For her part, she also actively works to protect her family from the House.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series is loosely tied to the “The Haunting” movie concept. Its characters and themes are significantly darker, especially with its less paranormal pieces.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The opening episodes each focus on a different member of the Crain family, showing both events from their childhood and what is going on in their adult lives during the events leading up to Nell's death. Likewise, episode 7 focuses on Hugh.
    • Episode 9 focuses on Olivia, taking place completely in the past. It covers the events leading up to the fateful night where she nearly kills her own children (and did kill the Dudley's daughter) before killing herself.
  • Dead All Along: Inverted with a twist: Early on, young Luke talks about and draws his friend Abigail, who Steve calls "imaginary", and who the audience is led to believe is one of the many ghosts. Turns out she was alive and real the whole time... until Olivia poisons her during a tea party. Even then, the audience might still be fooled into thinking she's a ghost or a shared mind-screw vision attending the tea party, until the scene with the Dudleys discovering her body. Surprise! Olivia really did murder a little girl.
  • Death by Irony: The house attempts to do this with Luke. After years of injecting himself with "poison" aka his drugs, the house forced him to inject himself with actual rat poison. His siblings arrive in time to get him to a hospital however.
  • Death Glare: Theo lands a pretty icy one on a client's foster parent after she shakes his hand, using her psychometric powers to confirm he raped the girl.
  • Death of a Child:
    • The Dudleys' first child was stillborn after Clara continued working for the Hills during her pregnancy, and it's strongly implied it was killed by the house.
    • The final episode reveals that an increasingly unhinged Olivia tried to poison the twins to spare them the horrors of living in the world; she is stopped by Hugh, but tragically succeeds in killing Abigail, the second daughter of the Dudleys.
    • It's implied that both of Poppy Hill's children died young, much to her despair.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Hill House. Make no mistake, this is a character-driven story. Defying horror convention, characters themselves are smart enough to leave the house after the events of their past. The adult characters, stay outside the house most of the episodes.
    • Nell is the first to die in the modern timeframe and doesn’t get as much screen time as her counterparts in the earlier versions of this story.
  • Distant Finale: Subverted! The finale opens with what appears to be a Time Skip where Steve is writing a sequel book based on the present timeline's events, and Leigh is now pregnant (with Luke apparently having died in the house) but it's really just a hallucination in the Red Room.
    • Played straight at the end of the episode, which shows the characters a couple of years down the line having finally earned their happy ending.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The series uses different filming styles in its episodes which calls back to other movies, and video games with dark themes.
    • Episode 6 uses long continuous shots, with a lot of background details shifting around. This is reminiscent of The Shining and Children of Men.
    • Periodically, some scenes use perspectives that look like significantly updated versions of the FMV sequences from games such as The 7th Guest and Phantasmagoria.
  • Door Handle Scare: The scene in the pilot when the upset father comes to his son's room at Hill House and locks the door behind him. Then we get a close-up on the door handle as it turns slowly left and right.
  • The Dragon: Of all the ghosts, Poppy seems to be the one who most aggressively aids the house in acting against the living.
  • Driven to Suicide: Implied with Olivia. Poppy's hand reaches out to push her, but she falls before Poppy ever touches her. It's possible Olivia was trying to wake up, acting on a suggestion from Poppy.
  • Dying as Yourself: In the final episode Hugh and the Dudleys die while elderly but their ghosts are of their younger selves.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Crains stayed pretty knit together, but their experiences at Hill House drove them apart and they all seem to hate each other. It was made worse when Steve decided to publish a book about their experiences at Hill House and and isolated himself from much of his family.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how. The surviving Crains fight like hell to make it out of Hill House to their epilogue scenes.
  • Easily Forgiven: The Dudleys have surprisingly zero anger towards Olivia for killing their daughter. Admittingly, she was dead at that point too and they knew it was the house's fault. That said they do tell Hugh that they won't tell the world about what she did only so long as he doesn't burn down the house as he was planning to. The fact that they can physically see and interact with their daughter's ghost instantly probably helps too.
  • Eldritch Location / Genius Loci: Hill House itself, very much. Especially the Red Room.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: Lights, flashlights, and cell phones all have trouble operating normally when spiritual phenomena associated with Hill House are in the vicinity.
  • Evil Redhead: Poppy. She is the only ghost who seems to deliberately encourage potential new victims to join the house.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: The end of the first episode reveals that Nell has killed herself in the house.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In one episode, Olivia jokingly tells Hugh that she psychically foresees hanging bodies if he doesn't take care of the loose ropes hanging on the edge of the spiral staircase. Years later, Nell hangs herself with one of the ropes.
    • Multiple times, one of the kids will find something in a room they like to spend time in. When they tell someone where they found it, i.e. the game room, family room, etc, someone will ask "Which room?" The rooms they all were in were actually the Red Room changing to suit their needs, but the house made them not realize it.
    • The rooms that the various house members enjoying hanging out in all are roughly the same size and shape, even Luke's treehouse. It's because they are all the same room, despite being decorated differently in each instance.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The marble statues in the hallway. Their heads change direction between shots.
  • Ghostly Glide: The bowler-wearing ghost moves in this fashion, with a cane added for extra weirdness. In the past, its feet are clearly visible above the ground. The present version also moves this way, though its feet are motionless on the ground.
  • Happily Married: Olivia and Hugh (despite a brief two-week snag), Nell and Arthur through their tragically brief marriage, and the Dudleys all seem to be this, despite all the horrors they each face.
  • Hates Being Touched: Theo, so much so that she wears gloves. And there's a reason for it: Theo has the ability to sense more of something with a touch, especially when it comes to people.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Hugh makes a deal with his wife's ghost - open the door to the Red Room to let their surviving children go free, and he will make sure that she is never alone again.
  • History Repeats: Each family that lives at or near the House is affected with hauntings and supernatural tragedies, including the Hills, the Crains, and the Dudleys. The Dudleys, in particular, have witnessed enough to spot the patterns. Judging by the veritable army of ghosts standing in the foyer near the end of Episode 10, the House practically collects people. It is hungry, after all...
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: A downplayed example. Nell's funeral, and everything that happens after including the climax of the story, all happens on Halloween. It's easy to forget this however, as the only time it comes up is that Kevin takes the kids trick or treating, and shortly after Shirley has to deal with what she initially thinks are obnoxious trick or treaters.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Despite not actually nearing death himself, this happens to Luke when he unknowingly feels Nell's death through their Twin Telepathy.
  • Infant Immortality: Poppy's ghost tried to convince Olivia to kill her children. She didn't succeed but she did with the Dudleys' daughter.
  • Irony: Shirley sees her sister Theo apparently trying to kiss her husband, without his resistance. She remains furious at them for several episodes, only for the reveal that the vision of the toasting man she has repeatedly been seeing was a guy she cheated with years earlier.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: There was pretty much no way Luke was going to take Steven's warnings about his Love Interest to heart given that Steven essentially phrased them as, "she's a junky, you can't trust her. I know that, because you're a junky and you've proven that I can't trust you." However, he's perfectly right that Luke is putting her on a pedestal and ignoring the fact that he wouldn't have met her in rehab if she wasn't as messed up as he is. She ends up relapsing, stealing from Luke and abandoning him after he gave up his own place in rehab to try to help her get clean again.
  • Jump Scare: What else would you expect in a supernatural thriller?
    • Special mention goes to Mr. Smiley, who shows up to torment Theo in a vision. After two episodes of people mentioning terrifying apparitions that never show up, it's a shock to see one finally make an on-screen appearance (albeit as a hallucination rather than an actual ghost).
  • Kill It with Fire: What Luke tries to do in the present-day. The House (or rather Olivia) refuses to let him.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Mrs Dudley is only ever shown with her hair up when she's working. In the final episodes - which really amp up her sympathetic qualities - it's worn looser.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Red Room. Notably though, it doesn't try very hard to keep its targets stuck in happy dreams. When they figure out that where they are is fake, which they all do pretty fast, it decides to horrify them instead. It is only due to Nell that they are able to get out.
  • Mind Screw:
    • The series is thick with it, and it shows through the slow decline of each family member's mental well-being. Note that it isn't a family mental illness (unlike what Steve tries to convince himself), so much as a slow trauma and terror-induced breakdown. Though, of course, the House is invoking this in them on purpose.
    • The cinematography conveys this quite well. There are plenty of jump scares, but some of the eerier effects are accomplished by visions of the undead appearing to slide in and out of frames, sometimes only shown in background shots before disappearing again.
    • Another subtle way of invoking it, is in the episode lengths. Instead of them all being a standard length, they range from 42 to 71 minutes, which is a great way of helping the viewers lose their sense of time.
    • And yet another: in Episode 8, there's a blink-and-you'll miss it scene that's flipped. Most viewers won't consciously spot it, but might feel like something is off. Note: watch the light switches carefully. There's at least one scene where it's on the wrong side of the door.
    • Plays with this trope in regards to The Red Room. Hugh and Liv spend half of the season trying to understand how the Red Room should be at the end of the hall on top of the spiral stairs near the library if there's no support for it, making them wonder how it should even exist.
  • Mood Whiplash: Nell's dance at her wedding, with the soft lighting, beautiful song, and everyone looking so happy, is followed immediately by a terrifying sleep paralysis episode, Arthur's sudden death by brain aneurysm, and The Bent-Neck Lady's reappearance. Even worse? The time stamp at the bottom says it's only been 8 months since the wedding.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Olivia's reaction after finding Abigail's body after the "tea party".
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Nell takes the last name of her husband Arthur upon marrying, becoming Eleanor Vance - just like her namesake in the original novel.
    • Luke's latest rehab stint takes place in the Sanderson Recovery Center. Sanderson is the last name of his book counterpart.
    • Shirley is named after the original novel's author, Shirley Jackson.
    • Nell's therapist is named Dr. Montague, after a central character in the book that the screenwriters were unable to work into this adaption.
    • This time Theo is the one who says the iconic line “Whose hand was I holding?”, when in the original Nell says it after finding out that it wasn’t Theo who was doing it.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Dudleys didn't have their first names revealed in the book. Here they become Horace and Clara.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Many of the apparitions that manifest inside Hill House.
    • Also, Theo's vision of Mr. Smiley.
  • Non-Linear Character:
    • Arguably, the way in which the House perceives — and can show people — time, as evidenced by Olivia seeing Nell's dead body on Shirley's future embalming table. Later, it uses Nell's and Luke's semblances, and accurate descriptions of how their lives will progress, to manipulate her into trying to "wake up" her children from the terrible world outside the House. It is not, however, The Omniscient — because although it showed Luke on the floor with the needle in his arm in Olivia's vision, that wasn't his ultimate fate.
    • This carries over into Nell after she dies. When she talks to her siblings in the Red Room, she's out of phase with them and muses to herself that time has become less like a line and more like "confetti." She eventually orients herself enough to speak with them.
  • The Nothing After Death: After being traumatized by Nell's ghost, Theo finally breaks down to Shirley and reveals that the reason she and Kevin looked like they were about to cheat is because after Theo had touched Nell's dead body, she was trapped in a state of feeling nothing. Her excessive drinking was driven by her desperation to feel something, and this desperation reached a fever pitch when the lights went out during a power outage, depriving Theo of sight and leaving her feeling like she was numbly floating in a void of absolute nothingness. When the lights come back on, she sees Kevin and latches onto him like "a life preserver in the ocean", and the ensuing flood of guilt, shame, and fear finally jolts her out of the spell. And she gladly accepts the consequences over the alternative.
    Theo: That thorough fucking shame was so much better than that horrible, empty nothing.
    • It's unclear if this is in fact what the dead themselves experience, or if it's some glitchy interaction with Theo's ability, or if it's something else entirely, but Nell on her part seems pretty warm and cheery saying her farewells to her siblings.
    • This is also heavily subverted by the mere presence of ghosts.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Quite a bit of the early episodes run on this trope. Wreaks havoc on your nerves if you’re genre savvy. Since you’re expecting a jump scare, the tension never goes away. Worse yet: in the introduction, there is NO jump scare, and therefore, the tension simply just keeps mounting.
  • Not His Sled: In previous versions of the story, including the original novel, Nell is the central protagonist and dies at the end. In this version she is one of five siblings who are all of equal importance and she dies at the end of the first episode.
  • Not Wanting Kids Is Weird: Steve reveals he had a vasectomy to avoid having kids because he didn't want to risk passing on the mental illness that (he thinks) runs in the family. Hugh treats this as a horrible fate and it causes trouble between him and Leigh, albeit more because he lied about the vasectomy and it got to the stage where they were seeking treatment for IVF (which is very expensive). After Steve and Leigh reconcile, a Flash Forward to two years later shows that she's pregnant.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: A number of occurrences become far clearer when revisited in later episodes.
    • The revelation that the Bent-Neck Lady was Nelly's ghost all along, revisiting her younger, living self against her will.
    • In episode 1, when Hugh carries Steve from his bedroom to the entrance of the house, there is clearly something stumbling along behind, chasing them. Whatever it is is out of focus, and you assume it must be a ghost haunting the house. It's really a crazed limping Olivia trying to stop Hugh from taking their kids from the house.
    • One episode opens before the credits with Nell and Shirley trying to unlock the Red Room with the house's master key. Another episode opens with Theo in a room by herself dancing with a video she is watching on a TV, when the doorknob to the room starts rattling before something bangs on the door. The last episode's opening shows that these two scenes were happening at the same time. Theo was in the Red Room, and the doorknob rattling and the banging on the door were Shirley trying to get inside.
  • The Ophelia: Both Olivia and Nell are like this. Like mother, like daughter, they're both pale willowy women with flowing long hair, haunted eyes, and "crazy" behavior. Both of them are even more susceptible to the supernatural things happening in the House, and both of them die in white sleeping gowns.
  • Orbital Shot: Around Hugh Crain at one point in episode 6, to show his sons and daughters both as adults and children.
  • The Oner:
    • Episode 6 is a lot of this, with scenes often going 10+ minutes in solid, continuous shots.
    • Episode 7 has a pretty long take just of Horace Dudley telling Hugh about his family's past with Hill House. It just slowly zooms in on him over the entire story.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The entire Crain family seems to have this dysfunction. Each family member has secrets, and it seems to produce a near-allergic reaction whenever one of them demands answers from any of the others. Part of this could be because of the skeptics in the family, who tend to be dismissive of any discussion of the supernatural. Another part could be because of the walls of isolation each family member has built around themselves as they process their traumas and try to remain safe and sane.
  • Prophet Eyes: The series makes liberal use of this, as when the many ghost and undead people open their eyes, they're nearly always glowing white and blank. Now, whether this is because they're dead or because they're supernatural (or both) is anyone's guess...
  • Psychometry / Touch Telepathy: Theo has this gift; she sometimes blocks herself off from it through wearing gloves.
  • Rape as Drama: Theo goes into the basement of Kelsey's foster home to investigate Mr. Smiley and psychically relives Kelsey's abuse at the hands of her foster father. Luckily CPS takes her word for it and the man is arrested that same day. It also helps that Theo knew the guy would fold like a cheap suit at the first sign of trouble.
  • Really Gets Around: Theo, in spades.
    Shirley: You're worse than a guy, you're like a frat guy! When I said you could live here in I wasn't expecting the pussy parade.
  • The Reveal:
    • Everyone has been in the Red Room at one point or another. In fact, it shows up in nearly every character's episode, but always disguised as a different space. The one distinguishing feature is the narrow window in the center of one of the walls.
    • The House itself feeds by taking in the recently deceased and making them into spirits that walk its grounds, Hugh himself realized this when the Dudleys see their deceased daughter Abigail (and later on Hugh seeing Olivia's ghost) walk the halls of the House.
    • The clock repairman in episode 8 was actually a ghost that Steve saw, but he didn't realize it.
    • Nell is the Bent-Neck Lady, haunting her past self in her final moments.
  • Remake Cameo: Dr. Montague, Nell's therapist, is played by Russ Tamblyn, who played Luke in The Haunting (1963).
  • Rewatch Bonus: There are at least 27 ghosts hidden in the background, as confirmed by the director. This ranges from 0 ghosts in episodes 6 and 8 not counting the clock repairman to 9 ghosts in episode 3, plus an unknown amount in episode 10. Some of them may even the same ghost appearing multiple times, like a ghost in the kitchen door in both episode 3 and episode 9.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Steve's book heavily suggested that his mother was clinically insane and that everyone of her children may have inherited some part of that insanity. While he was right in pointing out that towards the end Olivia was driven to insanity, however it wasn't due to any medical issues but because of the house itself and the ghosts. Not only that but the "mental illness" they inherited was actually Olivia's sensitivity to the spirits.
  • Running Gag: Young Nell repeats a swear, gets told not to say that, and then points out "you just said that!"
  • Satellite Love Interest: Both Leigh and Trish exist entirely as partners for Steve and Theo respectively. While Shirley's husband Kevin has a little more involvement in the plot - and Nell's husband Arthur is really The Lost Lenore for her - those two have no development outside their love interest status.
  • Screw Destiny: despite dying in the first episode, Nell tries everything in her power to ensure that her siblings won't share her fate. Both her and Olivia have visions of Luke dying, and he does appear to die in the Red Room for a moment, but Nell's love for him and her sheer determination manage to bring him back from the freaking dead - which is one of the few victories that the Crains score.
  • Shapeshifting: The embodiment of the house appears in many forms throughout the Crain sibling's dreams in order to get them to let their guards down and mess with their minds in the Red Room. It appears as: Joey to Luke, The cheating lover with Shirly, and Trish to Theo. Showing that on some level the house is ultimately sentient and outright cruel when it wants to feed.
  • Shout-Out: To Daredevil: Shirley's son Jayden desperately wants a Daredevil costume for Halloween, and is finally seen wearing Matt Murdock's first season getup for Trick-or-Treating.
  • Shown Their Work: a lot.
    • The police interview / interrogation in episode 7 is amazingly accurate. Rather than intimidate the witness / suspect, like most shows portray, instead they try to elicit a voluntary confession, which would wreck the suspect’s defense.
    • The homeownership (minus the ghosts) horrors are depressingly accurate.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": The sound Olivia's body makes when she hits the library floor. Headfirst.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The current day events start with Nell killing herself at Hill House. Except she didn't really commit suicide, she was killed by the house.
  • Super Multi-Purpose Room: The secret of the Red Room, a la the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Hugh Crain, which comes into play later on that Hugh's story comes off as true since unlike his children or Liv, the Red Room never opened itself to him, as he always struggled to open it himself. As a result of The Red Room not opening itself to him, Hugh was able to not fall for the House's hallucinations.
  • Time Master: The house really screws around with time in order to get what it wants. The ghost of Nell being plunged into the past is what brings Nell's death in the first place. It also shows Olivia scenes of the future with her dead children but without context ultimately resulting Olivia going insane.
  • Transparent Closet: When Theo’s girlfriend unexpectantly shows up during the funeral, Luke tries to explain Theo's whole Coming-Out Story to their father, only for him to casually explain that they (the parents) had always known — their mother Olivia had started to assume it from when Theo was around 8 years old.
  • Twin Telepathy: What Luke and Nell share, to a certain degree, often expressing itself in dreams and shared sensations.
  • Undead Barefooter: Olivia and Poppy both walk the halls of the House barefoot as ghosts.
  • Unstuck in Time: Nell, after her death from the manipulations of the House.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Nell's therapist meant well when he told her she'd feel better if she took a trip to the house so she could see it's "just a carcass", but taking his advice got her killed and led to Hugh having to sacrifice himself to save her siblings from the same fate.
  • Wham Episode: Six is particularly hard-hitting. It has the appearance of only being cut three times, which almost makes the episode real-time. The family finally starts discussing what’s really going on, and this means plot bombs left and right.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I never built you kids a tree house!"
    • "I know you saw a ghost... the man repairing the clock."
    • "The Red Room! It's open!"
    • "I feel I've been here before..." "We have."
  • Wham Shot: Several.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Shirley discovers Theo trying to kiss her husband in a closet, though she didn't witness her husband pushing her sister away. She remains angry at them for several episodes. Which makes the reveal that she herself cheated on her husband earlier, with a married man at that, quite hypocritical of her.

"Forgiveness is warm, like a tear on a cheek. Think of it and of me when you stand in the rain. I loved you completely, and you loved me the same. That's all. Everything else is confetti."
—Nell
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