The Haunting of Hill House has inspired everything from epic Halloween costumes to gut-wrenching theories about the five Crain siblings.
During an interview with Thrillist, showrunner and horror extraordinaire Mike Flanagan revealed that the final scene of the series was initially going to be very, very different (and very, very depressing). As you might recall, the show resolves on a happy note, with the family coming together after the trauma they experience and moving forward with their lives: Steven is going to be a dad, Shirley and her husband seem to have reconciled, Theo has married Trish, and Luke celebrates being two years sober.
But in the scene of the siblings giving Luke a cake to mark the milestone, Flanagan considered putting a small vertical window in the center of the wall behind the family instead of the paintings that ultimately appear in the frame. If the writers had put the window in the last scene, it would’ve meant that the family never actually escapes Hill House; instead they fall right into its eternal trap with Olivia, Nell, and Hugh. The bleak, ambiguous ending would’ve been perfectly in line with the rest of The Haunting of Hill House‘s dark twists, but in the end, Flanagan decided to go in a different direction.
“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,” he explained. “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.”