‘The Haunting of Hill House’: What You Missed in That Insane Tracking Shot From Episode 6
In the sixth episode of Netflix’s critically-acclaimed new show, The Haunting of Hill House, the series peaked — in its acting, storyline, and cinematography — all over the course of a breathtaking 17-minute tracking shot that essentially shows an entire family falling apart.
Though the scene slowly escalates in intensity, once the tension comes to a head, a lot happens very fast; with just one watch, it’s easy to overlook seemingly small moments that ultimately add (a lot) of fuel to the fire.
Creator Mike Flanagan shared a behind-the-scenes look at the crucial scene, which he says took “six weeks of rehearsals, hundreds of camera and lighting cues, and a Herculean effort from the cast and crew.” Check it out below:
Read on below for the 12 most crucial points of that scene that put Flanagan on the map and had a lot of people talking.
It all starts with an innocent walk down memory lane as Steven reminisces about the days when little Nellie would call puffy envelopes “puffalopes”. After awhile, Theo gets agitated hearing Steven tell the story for apparently one too many a time, and completely changes the mood of the gathering when she interrupts Steven with a dig about him having so few stories to tell because he ‘wasn’t there’ for the rest. Shirley chimes in and tells Theo that she ‘seriously might want to slow down,’ and nods to the glass of vodka in Theo’s hand. From there, the Crains are off to the races, and not in a good way.
“There Were Seven”
Hugh tries to lighten the mood by pointing out that Nellie got the word “puffalope” from her mother, who would tell her that if she sent her letters to Santa in a puffalope, they wouldn’t get cold. He then looks at Steven and Shirley and tells them that Nell never asked Santa for anything for herself, but for her siblings instead. He says that as she grew up, she ‘was always telling him about the amazing things going on’ with the two of them. Shirley looks disgusted, and fires back with “Two of us…there were seven.”
“She Did It Anyway”
Hugh asks Shirley what she means, and Shirley points out “There were seven of us, and now there’s five, because two of us decided to die. You know some religions won’t let you be buried in their cemetaries if you kill yourself. Like you committed a crime, and really you were just in so much pain. Nellie knew that, she knew the price the rest of us pay when someone does that, and she did it anyway.”
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The conversation turns again, and Luke and Steve are in the middle of a childhood camping memory when Steve, clearly still hung up on something, looks at Hugh and says “I’d like to go back to something you said.” He brings up Hugh’s claim that he and Nellie were in touch by letter once a month, and accuses him of having hints as to Nellie’s state of mind that he is hiding from the rest of them.
“Did She Mention…”
Steve demands that Hugh tell him about the call he received from Mrs. Dudley on the night Nellie was found dead. Hugh insists that “she called me, and immediately after she called the police … she saw your sister hanging next to the spiral staircase in the library.” Steve then asks Hugh if Nellie mentioned in one of her puffalopes that she crashed a book signing of his about a month ago, to “scream at” him.
The Bent-Neck Lady
After Shirley speaks up and says “that doesn’t sound like the Nell we know,” Hugh breaks down and admits that he spoke to Nell the night she died, and that she had mentioned to him that the “Bent-Neck Lady” was back.
“You Let Her Believe…”
Finally, Steve erupts into anger. “There it is! You let her believe all that bullshit about Hill House and that ‘this is the inevitable conclusion,’” he screams, and claims this makes Hugh responsible for her suicide.
Hugh tells his children that he held back information to protect them. As Steve’s anger continues to rise, Shirley interrupts him to warn him to “check himself” before he starts “talking about the truth,” obviously referring to Steve’s book, which, according to Shirley, “took all that paranoia and craziness and mass-marketed it” to “jump start his writing career.”
“I Took His Money”
Focus switches back to Theo after Shirley calls her out for being drunk again, and Theo defends herself by saying that Shirley is not allowed to dictate how she grieves, and that yes, she did take Steven’s [book profit] money to get her degree and start her career. “Why shouldn’t I?” she demands.
“Lying to My Face”
Struggling to process Theo’s admission, Shirley asks Theo to reiterate the fact that she was living under Shirley’s roof all while lying to her face and acting like she didn’t have the money to live on her own…then she kicks Theo out of the house.
For the Business
Kevin Harris steps up to the plate and admits that he, too, took Steven’s money to keep his funeral business going.
Large Black Buttons
Theo leaves, saying she needs more vodka, while the three men are talking about what they are going to do next. Shirley walks over to Nell’s coffin to find a large black button placed over each of Nell’s corpse’s eyes.
She thinks that one of her siblings did it in a horrific joke, and begins to reprimand them, but suddenly the lights go out, and it’s clear that the haunting of Hill House isn’t over yet. We are left with a shot of the Bent Neck Lady, and Hugh beginning to walk toward her.
Finally, for the first time in 23 minutes, the camera cuts, leaving the Crain family in shambles, and everyone watching dying to know how they are going to get out of their mess.
The Haunting of Hill House, Streaming, Netflix