Why True ‘Hill House’ Fans Are Upset About That Ending

Hill House
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Netflix unleashed the spooky 10-episode series The Haunting of Hill House on October 12. But some fans are NOT happy about how it ended. If you haven’t seen it yet, turn back now! Spoilers WILL be coming at the end of this post.

You’ve been warned…

Award-Winning Novel

Shirley Jackson—who wrote the equally unsettling short story “The Lottery,” published The Haunting of Hill House in 1959. The story sparked something in our imaginations, with its dark atmosphere and rich vein of psychological horror. In the book, Dr. John Montague rents a haunted mansion and invites people who have been brushed by the supernatural in the past. He hopes to prove the existence of ghosts, and he gets much more than he bargained for.

Stephen King is a huge fan of the book, and many critics and fans consider The Haunting of Hill House to be one of the best—if not the absolute best—horror novels and gothic ghost stories of the 20th century.

Earlier Adaptations

The familiar story has made it to the big screen twice as The Haunting. In 1963, a faithful adaptation directed by Robert Wise placed an emphasis on the mental breakdowns of the characters.

The 1999 version, on the other hand, was a gory schlock-fest starring Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones that tossed out the taut psychological horror in favor of bloody murders and a cheesy ending.

Enter Netflix

The new Netflix series follows the same basic formula as the original story with a few twists. Most viewers and critics praised the series, with Brian Tallerico from rogerebert.com calling it “essential viewing.” But fans of the source material are divided about that ending.

This is your final warning before the spoilers begin!

In the novel, the emotionally disturbed Eleanor is clearly in danger from the house…or possibly from her own mind. The others insist that she gets away from the malign influence of Hill House. She seems to escape, only to plow her car into a tree on the estate’s grounds. It’s never clear whether she meant to die or was forced into, or what really happened at the house.

The new series, however, makes Hill House into something quite different. In the end, the Crain family is essentially being eaten by the house. And anyone who dies there is doomed to haunt it forever. Hugh, the patriarch of the family, makes a deal to allow his children to escape, while he hangs out with his dead wife and youngest daughter forever.

The issue for super-fans of the book and 1963 movie is that by going so far off the original ending, it hardly feels like the same story. Ultimately, it seems like some viewers found the adaptation to be a Halloween treat, while fans of Shirley Jackson were disappointed by the trick. What do you think?