The Ghosts You Missed In The Haunting Of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House, a chilling family drama and horror series based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, has now arrived on Netflix. There are plenty of ghosts ready to jump out and scream and spook the audience, but perhaps the most frightening element of the series is the collection of ghosts that you don't see - because they're cleverly hidden.
With a powerful ensemble cast that includes Henry Thomas, Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Elizabeth Reaser, Kate Siegel, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Victoria Pedretti, the series jumps between past and present as the Crain family recalls one terrible summer that they spent in the virulently haunted Hill House.
All 10 episodes of The Haunting of Hill House were directed by Mike Flanagan, who is also attached to direct upcoming Stephen King adaptation Doctor Sleep (a sequel to The Shining). Flanagan's previous horror movies include home invasion thriller Hush, Gerald's Game (another King adaptation), and haunted mirror movie Oculus. In The Haunting of Hill House, Flanagan shows off his talent for subtle chills by hiding literally dozens of ghosts in plain sight - but in the background or out of focus. You can watch the entire series and only spot a few of these ghosts, or none at all, so for the curious we've gathered together all of the hidden ghosts we could find. Check them out below... if you dare.
- This Page: Hidden Ghosts in Episodes 1-3
- Page 2: Hidden Ghosts in Episodes 4-7
- Page 3: Hidden Ghosts in Episodes 8-10
The Ghost Through The Railing
You don't have to wait long to catch sight of your first hidden ghost in The Haunting of Hill House. During the opening monologue of Episode 1, "Steven Sees a Ghost," we're taken on a tour of Hill House that includes this particular shot overlooking the stairs. You may not see it at first, but look between the railings and you'll see a white ghost face peering through them. Very creepy.
Nellie's Night-Time Visitor
The Bent-Neck Lady isn't the only ghost who pays Nellie a night-time visit in Episode 1. This one is very hard to spot - so much so that it could almost just be the leaves on the tree outside - but look on the far-right window pane and you'll see a pale face peering in at the children.
The Ghost In Steven's Room
This ghost is so hidden in the dark and out of focus that he's also very difficult to spot, but a little brightening of the image makes his outline clear. This ghost is also from Episode 1 of the series, in the scene where Hugh runs to fetch Steven from his room so they can flee the house. Look out for the ghost on the right hand side of the screen when Hugh is listening at the door, and someone outside is turning the knob.
A Ghostly Trio By The Stairs
Yes, Episode 1 is packed with hidden ghosts, and here are two more - though these are much easier to spot. When Hugh flees down the stairs with Steven in tow, you can see a man and a woman on the right hand side of the stairs, and you can also very briefly see another woman on the left hand side. The man appears to be the same ghost that was seen peering through the railings earlier in the episode. As with all of the other hidden ghosts in the series, these three are standing stock still and wearing black clothes.
A Face In The Shadows
Still In Episode 1, Mrs. Dudley is giving Steven a lecture on religion when the two of them are interrupted by Liv, who arrives to offer a counterpoint and quote some Shakespeare. Look over Liv's shoulder as the enters the kitchen, however, and you'll see something extremely unsettling: a pale face peering out of the darkness. It's definitely enough to put you off your breakfast, but when Liv moves to leave the kitchen, the face is gone.
Watched From Both Sides
How about two ghosts for the price of one? In Episode 2, "Open Casket," we flash back to Shirley and Liv looking over plans for their "Forever Home." It's a touching scene between mother and daughter - so touching, in fact that you might miss the blonde-haired girl standing in the garden behind Shirley. As if that wasn't bad enough, they're being watched from inside the house as well; when the scene cuts to a profile view of Liv, you can see someone dressed in dark clothing in the room behind her. Spookier still, when the camera cuts away and back again, this second ghost has moved, and is sitting at the table instead. In the next cut to Liv, the ghost is standing on the other side of the table.
Peering Through The Glass
In Episode 3, "Touch," there's a cut from the adult Theo picking up an apple to young Theo walking down a hallway eating an apple. She enters the kitchen, where she finds Nellie and Luke playing with an old speaking tube. Look on the right hand side as Theo enters the kitchen and you'll see a ghostly face peering through a glass pane in the door.
Continuing Episode 3, you can spot another ghost after Mrs. Dudley scolds Luke for playing with the dumb waiter, and Theo stands up for him. After Mrs. Dudley touches Theo's arm, and Theo senses that she's afraid, Theo and Luke leave the kitchen. Look behind them as they're leaving and you can see the ghost of a tall woman who is half-hidden behind a wall.
Luke's Dumb Waiter Ride
After being dragged away from the dumb waiter by Mrs. Dudley during the day, Luke returns to it at night. When Theo decides to help him by sending him up in the elevator (which actually ends up sending him down), the scene cuts to a wide shot where you can just about see the ghost with long pale hair in the dining room.
The Corner of the Kitchen
Young Theo's search for a hidden basement in "Touch" is pretty engrossing - so engrossing, in fact, that you may well have missed another person in the kitchen when she's searching for the trap door. This ghost appears to be a very tall woman, and you can only see her black clothing and her hand, on the left hand side of the screen as Theo is moving the washing machine. Once you spot her, though, you're sure to get some chills.
Down In The Dark
Going down into spooky basements in haunted houses is generally a bad idea - but it's an especially bad idea when there's a ghost peering up at you from the spooky basement! Theo doesn't see the ghost hidden behind the ladder that leads down into the bootlegger basement, but look closely and you will.
Theo Gets A Fright
The ghost who appeared in the dining room behind Liv makes a comeback in "Touch," when Theo goes to talk to her mother and has a terrifying vision of her future death. It's easy to be distracted by the sight of Liv with her face split open, but look in the background after Theo backs away and Liv stands up, and you'll get a slightly clearer look at the dining room ghost - a woman with long, pale hair.
The Bald Man
Poor Theo is positively plagued by ghosts in "Touch" - and most of the time she doesn't even know it. While her father and Mr. Dudley are investigating the trap door in the kitchen, Theo wanders off. As she passes by an open door the kitchen, you can see a bald man staring in. Uncle Fester, is that you?
In The Distance
No sooner has the bald man disappeared from the screen than another ghost makes an appearance - this time the ghost with the long dark hair again, who was also spotted in Episode 1 when Hugh and Steven were fleeing the house. This ghost appears in the distance, behind Liv as she beckons Theo into the dining room. Can you spot her, skulking by the door frame?
Don't Look Back
The final ghost of "Touch" appears at the very end of the episode, when a flashback revisits the Crains' final night in Hill House. Theo comes running down the stairs and looks over to see Hugh leading the twins along. Look behind the three of them, and you'll spot the same ghost that is so fond of lurking by the stairs. A moment later, though, he is gone.
Page 2: Hidden Ghosts in Episodes 4-7
Luke Gets A New Hat - And Someone's Jealous
The first ghost to appear in Episode 4, "The Twin Thing," shows up when young Luke gets given a "big boy hat" found among Hill House's collection of junk. After Luke puts on the hat and runs off screen, the camera lingers for a moment and the focus shifts slightly, revealing a tall man standing behind a piece of furniture. It's possible that this is the same ghost who comes to retrieve his hat later in the episode.
The Ghost By The Window
After Luke runs off with his hat, Liv discovers a shawl that she likes the look of, and then shares with Hugh her oddly specific vision of what the room might once have looked like. It might be hard to concentrate on Liv's ruminations, however, since one of the more obvious background ghosts appears in this scene: the ghost with the long, pale hair, who is standing framed by the window at the end of the hallway. As the camera slowly zooms in, she disappears from sight.
The Ghost Face Returns
From one of the easiest ghosts to spot, we return to one of the more difficult ones: this time, the pale ghostly face that we saw earlier. As Luke and Nellie are playing with buttons in the speaking tube, look over to the glass panes on the left hand side of the screen and you'll see the face peering through. This time, even more chillingly, you can also see a ghostly hand reaching out to press its fingers against the glass!
The Doorway Duo
After running upstairs to investigate a strange voice coming from the speaking tube, Luke gets terrified by the ghost of an old woman in the bed. He goes running downstairs, but what he doesn't see are two more ghosts waiting at the bottom, on either side of the doorway on the right hand side of the staircase. These don't appear to be the same two ghosts that we saw lurking by the staircase earlier in the series, but rather a new set. More twins, perhaps?
Gerald Pays A Visit
The first ghost of Episode 5, "The Bent-Neck Lady," is also a cameo role - though don't worry if you didn't spot it. After Nellie runs terrified into her parents' bedroom, Liv does her best to comfort her. As she does so, you can see a face behind her on the left hand side of the screen. This ghost is actually played by Bruce Greenwood, who played the eponymous Gerald in Mike Flanagan's movie Gerald's Game.
Sweet Dreams, Nellie
After seeing the Bent-Neck Lady for the first time in Episode 5, Nellie begs to sleep downstairs the second night. However, one thing that this series makes clear is that there's nowhere in Hill House that's safe from the ghosts. After Hugh heads off to bed, look behind Liv on the left hand side of the screen and you'll see a ghost lurking in the darkness.
Hiding Under The Piano
As if ghostly faces weren't bad enough, there's a ghostly pair of hands visible underneath the piano in the scene where Liv accuses Nell of writing her name on the wall. You can spot them when Theo walks into the room - and this isn't the only time you can spot a ghost in this scene.
Come Home, Nell
When Theo touches the wall and realizes that Nell is telling the truth - she didn't write her own name there - a new camera angle reveals a small ghost (or someone sitting down) behind her, on the left hand side of the screen . This ghost is noticeable mainly because it moves slightly in one of the shots. The hands under the piano are visible again later in this scene, indicating that there are two ghosts in the room (rather than one ghost that switches positions).
Watching The Red Room
There are no hidden ghosts at all in Episode 6 (though there are some extremely visible ghosts), but it's back to Spook City in Episode 7, "Eulogy." This Hugh-focused episode doesn't have a whole lot of ghosts - perhaps because the Crain patriarch is less sensitive than his wife and children - but you can spot the first ghost when he tries to get into the Red Room through brute force. After Hugh tries and fails to open the door with a crowbar, he stands up and you can just about see a ghost peering through the doorway on the left hand side of the screen.
Look Behind The Shelf
The pale-haired ghost returns when Hugh discovers the body in the basement. You can spot her first after he startles back from his discovery - look just above Hugh's head at the shelf in the background, and you can see her hiding behind it.
A Discovery In The Wall
As Hugh peers closer at the discovery in the wall, so too does the pale-haired ghost move in. You can spot her in this closer shot, hiding behind the wall in the background, with her long hair hanging down.
She's Behind You, Officer
If you thought that having the police around would force these ghosts into hiding, you'd be wrong. After the discovery of the body in the wall, some cops show up to investigate. As they're all crowded around the grisly remains, you can see the pale-haired ghost hanging out behind them with her hand pressed against the wall.
Page 3: Hidden Ghosts in Episodes 8-10
The Clock Repair Ghost
OK, maybe this guy shouldn't really be included on the list since his presence and ghostly nature are explicitly acknowledged later on in Episode 8, "Witness Marks." In fact, the name of the episode is actually a reference to this mustachioed ghost who is seen fixing the clock. However, we're going to give him points for hiding in plain sight... and also for that wonderful facial hair.
Bedtime For Luke
The first ghost of Episode 9, "Screaming Meemies," appears after Liv is startled to find Luke suddenly gone from her arms. It turns out that he's actually being held by Hugh, who has picked him up and is preparing to carry him to bed. If Liv were to look past Hugh and Luke at this moment, she'd have even more reason to be disturbed - because there's a ghost watching them from the dining room.
The Kitchen Creep
The second hidden ghost of Episode 9 is one of the most obvious ones in the series - and also one of the scariest. This seems to be the same ghost that we saw in Episode 3, when Theo was discovering the basement beneath the kitchen, only this time its face is visible. We really wish that it wasn't.
When her migraines, terrible dreams, visions and blackouts start to frighten her husband and children, Liv agrees to leave Hill House for a while and go and stay with her sister. Unfortunately, the house isn't ready to let her go. After Liv has said her goodbyes and begins walking to the front door, the scene cuts to a wide shot that reveals a ghost standing in the doorway to the statue room, watching her leave.
A Ghost With a Big Head
The night after Liv departs, she secretly sneaks back to the house to enact a dark and terrible plan. That same night, Shirley descends the stairs, heading to the kitchen for a midnight snack. When she reaches the bottom of the stairs and the camera pans over to the hallway, you can see what looks like a ghost with an abnormally large head - reminiscent of the boogeyman Mr. Smiley that Theo dreamed about earlier in the series.
A Ghost Within a Dream
In Episode 10, when Steven returns to the house with his father to witness the memory of Hugh discovering Liv's body, and the Dudleys revealing that Abigail is actually their daughter, the "half-hidden" ghost returns. Look out for her in the doorway behind Steven as he approaches the grisly scene of his mother's death.
The Haunting of Hill House is available now on Netflix.