The Haunting of Hill House: 4 things we learned from Carla Gugino


In an interview with Buzzfeed, Carla Gugino answered questions about The Haunting of Hill House, including how the Red Room works.

Since its release last month, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House has received plenty of praise, most notably for the intricate amount of detail put into the series. Not only does the show focus on the psychological and supernatural facets when telling the story of Hill House, but it contains plenty of foreshadowing and Easter eggs for those willing to look for them.

In fact, Netflix even released images of hidden ghosts in the background of many of the show’s scenes. It seems that the residents of Hill House are never truly alone, even when there aren’t obvious signs of the supernatural around.

Given how nuanced and detailed the series is, fans were bound to have questions following the season finale. And that’s saying something, since the finale did a great job of tying up loose ends. But when it comes to Hill House, some things will always be a mystery.

That’s why BuzzFeed sat down with Carla Gugino to discuss her thoughts on some of the major questions buzzing around the Hill House fanbase. Watch the full video here:

During the interview, Gugino revealed plenty of interesting tidbits about the series. Here are some that we found the most interesting.

The Red Room

One of the biggest mysteries throughout The Haunting of Hill House involves the Red Room, a room hidden behind a seemingly unopenable red door. The finale reveals that, while the door only opens when it wants to, each family member has been in the Red Room before.

When asked how the Red Room functions, Gugino confirmed what the finale alludes to. The Red Room is always located in the same place, but it manifests itself differently depending on the person entering it. It’s almost like the Room of Requirement, for any Harry Potter fans out there.

“It’s just that it manifests differently based on each person’s psyche,” Gugino told Buzzfeed. “So, basically, it provides a space of solace for each person, which is different.” The relation of the room to each character’s psyche is an interesting one, given the fact that the characters’ minds play such a huge role throughout The Haunting of Hill House.

Gugino’s comment also might indirectly answer another question about the Red Room: Why does it only open sometimes? Perhaps the room is only available when characters are seeking “solace,” or some similar comfort. This would explain why the door is locked when the characters’ only motivations are to look at the other side of it.


BuzzFeed raised an interesting question by inquiring about the mold situation at Hill House. It wanted to know whether the dangerous black mold growing within the house’s walls had anything to do with the mental states of the people residing there. Were the ghosts driving the Crain family crazy, or could the mold have been affecting them?

In answer, Gugino confirmed that the show’s creator, Mike Flanagan, said that “the more mold there is, the more mental disintegration is happening.” She also spoke of the mold being a metaphor for the deterioration mind, as “more and more seeps in and takes over.”

It makes sense that the mold would play such a distinctive role in delivering the show’s message, both physically and metaphorically. After all, why else would the creators spend so much time focusing on it? Of course, given the very real physical consequences caused by the ghosts at Hill House, the mold isn’t the only factor when it comes to what the Crains are seeing.

Still, the addition of the mold adds a nice touch to the psychological component of the show. It gives a reason behind the Crains family’s mental concerns, beyond the overdone “the ghosts are making us crazy” story line.

Olivia’s Presence

BuzzFeed also had plenty of questions about Olivia’s presence throughout the series, with the focus being on whether she was still watching her family after all these years. Gugino believes that, yes, Olivia has always been with the Crains — even after the fateful night that she died.

And while that might have been clear from Olivia’s beyond-the-grave conversations with Hugh, Gugino also confirmed that Olivia was the one responsible for many of the show’s mysteries. For example, it turns out that Olivia is the one who breaks Shirley’s forever house. She’s also the ghost that crawls toward Hugh and Theo afterward.

According to Gugino, Olivia is also places the buttons over Nell’s eyes while she’s in her casket — an action that infuriates Shirley and the others. “Nell loved her buttons, and it’s her way of making sure Nell is at peace,” Gugino added.

These revelations are interesting because, even in death, it seems that Olivia’s mental state is still the same. On the one hand, she wants what’s best for her children. That’s why she places the buttons with Nell.

On the other hand, she wants them to come home to her — despite what that would mean for them. This is obvious in her attempts to call Shirley back to her. She likely breaks her daughter’s forever home because it represents a life away from Hill House, and thus, away from Olivia.

Luke’s attempt to burn down Hill House

Another huge question regarding the finale is why Luke’s attempt to burn down Hill House fails. He pours gasoline all over the first story of the house, but when he lights the match, the flames appear briefly and disappear.

While Gugino didn’t have too much to say on this topic, she did share that this happened “specifically” because of Olivia. She said: “So, he comes to find his mom, in a lot of ways, and she puts out the fire. So, because you know, he’s finally home. For her, it’s the happiest moment of her life. So yeah, that’s Olivia’s doing.”

This is one of those moments that emphasizes that the entirety of what happened at Hill House wasn’t psychological — the mind can’t simply prevent a house from exploding. Something like this proves that the ghosts of Hill House are there, even if there was more at play than just ghosts.

This moment also shows Olivia’s nuanced mentality once again. She soothes the flames in an effort to protect her son, her love for him overriding even an explosion. Yet, once he’s safe, she drags him further into the house — where he’ll likely die, but he’ll also remain with her.

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One takeaway from Gugino’s answers is that there isn’t always a clear-cut answer to the questions about Hill House. There’s so much at play, most events can’t be attributed to just one thing.