Warning: This post contains spoilers, read at your own discretion.
If you’re into horror movies and TV shows that leave you with one hand over your eyes and your partner’s hands over their ears–you’ve probably gotten into Netflix’s new series The Haunting of Hill House. The show, based on a best-selling novel, is about one of “the most haunted houses in the world.” But, if you’ve seen the show, you probably already knew that.
You also know that the Red Room is particularly important to the show’s plot. From the very first episode, viewers see the room is both secretive and shady–as Nellie tries to get into it by using multiple keys. But, as the show goes on, viewers also see that the Red Room lures every family member in (except for the father, Hugh) and has a terrifying outcome. For the entire season, the Red Room is like a ghost, creeping up on each and every family member and luring them in by playing on their psyche. At the end of the season, the showrunners finally reveal in the finale that the Red Room is really just one room that lives differently in everyone’s mind.
But, how does that even work? Well, Carla Gugino stopped by the BuzzFeed offices to discuss everything related to The Haunting of Hill House. Specifically, people were curious about the Red Room, as it plays such a big role in the show.
Gugino revealed that the Red Room happens to not be an actual room, but exists in the same location in Hill House. However, it manifests whenever someone needs it–based on which character needs it at a specific time. The room exists in each person’s psyche. Essentially, the family can only get into the Red Room through their psyche. Each person has a different understanding of what the Red Room is because each character needs something else.
Steve wanted a game room, Shirley wanted a place to take care of her kittens, Thero wanted a dance studio, Nell wanted a place to hide from the Bent-Neck Lady, Luke wanted a treehouse, and Olivia wanted a quiet space. The Red Room acted like this “place” for each character based on what they wanted most.
How did you not realize this from the very beginning–that the Red Room was the same room just different for each person? Show creator Mike Flanagan told TheWrap:
It was a tightrope. We constantly refined the set dressing, so that hopefully people wouldn’t realize they were looking at the same set, but we needed one element to be constant so that once the reveal occurred, a second viewing would feel like it was always obvious. We chose that distinct vertical window. We also made sure to shoot the room from the same angle in all of the episodes leading up to it, so that even the camera framing was familiar. We really just hoped that Hill House was so sprawling, people would assume there were just a lot of rooms they hadn’t seen. What’s odd if they look a little similar?”
Boom, mind blown.