Though “The Haunting of Hill House” isn’t strictly a mystery show, the show’s format and the non-linear narrative do build up a very compelling set of questions that slowly unravel throughout the season. There’s the question of what exactly happened at Hill House and whether it actually was haunted. But there’s also the mystery surrounding the death of the Crain children’s mother (which was never really explained to them), why their father Hugh kept her death secret, and why he never tore down the house.
The more we learn about the events of the past, and the more time we spend with the adult Crains (Steven, Luke, Neill, Theo, and Shirley) coping with said events, the more the tragedy of the Crain family becomes evident. We slowly learn that the youngest kids, Luke and Nell, were terrified of ghosts they saw every night while at Hill House, which the rest of the family mostly ignored. Nell grew up depressed and manic while Luke became a heroin addict. We also learn that Steven, the older brother who never really saw any ghosts or believed in the tales as a kid, grew up to write a successful memoir that sold their story as a haunted house tale.
Following Nell’s suicide, Luke runs aways from rehab and eventually makes his way back to Hill House to destroy it, believing it to be the cause of all their misfortune.
Then there’s the story of the house itself, which we learn had many a strange death occur within its walls (like the original owner William Hill, who bricked himself up behind a wall in the basement in the ’40s). If the possibility of ghosts wasn’t enough, there’s also the fact that the house was infected with mold, which could cause hallucinations — like seeing ghosts everywhere.