There’s a new show on Netflix, called The Haunting of Hill House and good God, is it scary! People might be like “Hey, it’s not that scary,” but those people are lying to you. This show is turn the lights on, don’t watch it after midnight, grab a comfort dog/pillow/human/pizza before you watch it–scary. The ten-episode series is about a house full ghosts, and the lasting effects it had on a family that lived there (the Crains). Frankly, after watching the show, we’ll never be the same, and can’t keep thinking about all the big and small moments that made us yelp. To help get you prepared for watching it yourself, we’ve compiled the moments most likely to scare the crap out of you.
The Bent-Neck Lady
I hate this ghost so much! Why is she so scary! Of all the ghosts in that damn house, the Bent-Neck Lady is the one that will fuck you up the most. She was so scary she visited me in my dreams, like I was a black Nell. The long-haired ghost starts sleep-haunting Nell in her childhood, when it starts appearing at night, just sort of hovering over Nell while she sleeps, and follows her all through adulthood. (How unfair: some kids get Casper, but Nell, poor Nell, she gets Bent-Neck Lady.) It may or may not be responsible for her husband’s sudden death, but it’s definitely the cause of Nell’s depression and anxiety and fear of going to sleep. In the end, it’s revealed that the Bent-Neck Lady was Nell along. She was seeing her own ghost her whole life, until she finally committed suicide, by hanging herself. If you choose to give this show an armchair This Is Us read, instead of just “ghost,” Bent-Neck Lady was a specter of Nell’s childhood trauma. So she’s both a creepy-ass ghost with a broken neck and the manifestation of some lingering issues that can’t be solved in therapy — name me something scarier!
Nell’s Mystery Eye Buttons
We still don’t know who put two buttons over the eyes of Nell’s corpse while she was peacefully resting in her coffin during the viewing. So either someone in the Crain family is a sociopath, or some ghost was creeping around. Either way, it was truly unsettling.
When the House’s Speaker System Speaks
I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming. We all knew it was coming. You don’t put an old-timey brassy gold speaker system in a haunted house and not have a long-dead old woman’s voice come out of it. What I did not expect, though — and part of what this show did so well, I think — is the moment’s relatively light touch: two brief, ghostly pleas, and then it’s over, and Nell and Luke can convince themselves it was only imagined.
Nell’s Sleep Paralysis
We know that Nell is visited most nights by that broken-neck bitch of a ghost, the Bent-Neck Lady, whose only haunting power is to play “I’m not touching you,” while Nell sleeps. Some of the most terrifying moments in this damn show occurred in episode five, where we get Nell’s backstory, which includes clip after clip of her being visited by the BNL. If you can’t see the ghost, it just looks like Nell is experiencing Sleep Paralysis — that totally chilling, but totally common phenom. You’re awake — but not really — you can’t move or scream your way into full consciousness. You often see some horrible hallucination that isn’t real like Nell’s was … except … who’s to say if it’s not?
The Very Tall Floating Guy With the Cane
Many (if not most) of Hill House’s dead residents are eventually revealed to have once been living human beings. But who … the HECK … is the very tall, very thin man who floats through the house, yet somehow also requires a cane? He first finds Luke under the bed as a child, and later follows him in moments of weakness; presumably, he is symbolic of Luke’s own omnipresent addiction. Fine. But why HIM? Why is the idea of floating and also needing a cane so, so scary??
The Thing in the Basement
I’m still not sure if the basement monster is the ghost of the man found in the walls (probably, but you never know with Hill House), as he only appeared in the show once. But what a show-stopping performance! What a fast crawler! Luke should never have gotten into that dumbwaiter. Obviously.
Hugh’s Shockingly Blue Eyes
Maybe this is just me (Katie), but there was something SUPER creepy about young Hugh, and I think it was mainly due to the unnatural, eerie blue hue of his eyes. A brief Google search suggests that the actor who played Hugh (Henry Thomas, who also played Elliot in E.T.!) has greenish, hazel eyes, which could explain that “unnatural” bit — he was probably wearing color contacts. I don’t know. I really kept expecting him to turn out to be evil, and he never was. Or was he??
Theo’s Extreme Empathy
Feelings are scary. Extreme feelings that mean nobody can touch you? Horrifying. Theo’s ability to touch someone or someone’s belongings and see every horrible experience they’ve gone through, and all the things they’ve felt? I’m scared shitless.
That Jump Scare in the Car
There isn’t any sort of horror that this show didn’t execute to maximum effect: psychological, emotional, and especially the jump scare. But this one jump scare worked so well: Theo and Shirl were driving in the car, on a mission to return to Hill House to save their brother. It was tense. They started fighting, and then out of nowhere SHRIEKING GHOST OF DEAD NELL WHO RECENTLY HUNG HERSELF SO WAS THE BENT-NECK LADY ALL ALONG STARTED SHRIEKING AT THEM, they were both so scared, Shirl drove of the road and Theo started having a panic attack. I might have peed my pants a little bit, but you’ll never know. I live alone.
The Moment You Realize Abigail Is Real (and … Dying)
I don’t think anyone should be too hard on themselves for not realizing that Abigail was, indeed, a living human child, because her being a ghost, or an “imaginary friend” is a far more plausible (and, if you ask me, less creepy) explanation than her being the Dudleys’ sickly shut-in daughter. As is so often the case with haunted house stories, I find myself shouting: WHY DON’T YOU JUST MOVE? Anyway, it was horrible to realize that Abigail was alive only moments before Olivia killed her. NOT good sleepover-hostess behavior.
When Olivia Saw the Future Ghosts of Her Two Children
I don’t have children but I imagine you spend most of your time as a parent worrying about all the different bad things your child could experience, and how powerless you really are to stop most of those things. (Someone put a baby in me now.) So when Olivia looks in the mirror and catches a glimpse of the adult ghost versions of her two once-adorable twins, Luke and Nell, and one has a snapped neck and the other died from an overdose and both are like “Yo mom, your fault!”, it is a psychologically devastating twist. Also, two ghosts appearing in a mirror — good jump scare!
The Rats (?) in the Wall
Of course it’s not rats. Like, duh. Of course there would be a body back there, and Hugh would find it after hacking a hole into the basement brick wall. Of course the corpse’s mouth would be yawning wide to reveal all his gross dead=person teeth. There shouldn’t have been anything particularly shocking about this body’s discovery, and maybe there wasn’t in the discovery itself. But the story of how he got there, trapped alive? BRUTAL.
How Hot the Entire Cast Was
I guess this wasn’t “scary” but I mean, it is a bit curious and a bit unnerving that every member of the Crain family is a gotdamn smokeshow. Steven (Michiel Huisman) is a diabolically hot jerk. Sister Theo? Can get it. (And is actually the only Crain who is seen getting it regularly, even getting ass at her younger sister’s wedding?) Young Hugh? Can get it. Luke? So damaged, so troubled, so can get it. Olivia? (Carla Gugino.) Don’t get me started. If I were a ghost, I’d haunt the shit out of them, too.