The Haunting of Hill House is, admittedly, as frightening as it is brilliant. If you’re too scared to watch, perhaps this guide to all the scariest moments is just what you need.
Although I’ve gotten better at being able to watch horror over the years, I’m not exactly the target audience. I still watch through my fingers and even the subtlest swell in music can make me jump out of my skin.
But I heard how amazing The Haunting of Hill House was, and I knew I had to watch it. I’m not even bitter I probably shaved seven years off my life. The Haunting of Hill House is so much more than its horror, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not fucking terrifying.
Because I want everyone to watch this show, I put together a guide to all the scary moments, timestamped for your convenience. My colleague Nasim did something similar so you can censor Sense8 while you watch it with your parents, and I thought I could use the concept to get even the biggest scaredy-cats to watch The Haunting of Hill House.
It’s not a perfect system, and it’ll probably be slow-going, but if you’re desperate to watch Hill House, this might be the only way to handle the horror.
The timestamps are broken down into two categories: creep factor and jump scare. Creep factor means you’ll see something that’s bound to send shivers down your spine, but it’s not intended to make you jump. A jump scare, on the other hand, is a sudden movement or sound intended to scare the living shit out of you.
I am a very jumpy person and Hill House is designed to keep you on edge, so sometimes a door closing or a sudden switch to a noise in the next scene can startle me, but I will not be including those moments on this list. If you’re like me, then I suggest watching this during the day, with the volume fairly low (and maybe even subtitles on), and probably with another living creature, like your best friend or your cat. It doesn’t hurt to be scrolling through your phone, too, if you think you can pay enough attention to what’s going on, as that might alleviate some of the stress for you.
There’s also a plethora of hidden ghosts throughout all 10 episodes, but they’re fairly difficult to spot unless you’re really looking for them in the background. I also won’t be pointing these out, but if you’re interested in being aware of when these crop up, you can read this article.
This guide may ruin a little of the mystery for you, but I’ll do my best to keep it as spoiler-free as possible so you can still enjoy the story. The only exception is the final scene in episode 5, which I’ve marked with an asterisk. If you read this ahead of time, it’ll give away a major twist — so be warned!
And now, without further ado, here’s the Haunting of Hill House guide to every single scary moment.
Episode 1 ‘Steven Sees a Ghost’
Creep Factor (6:40): Nell is laying back down in bed and the music starts to swell. We see the Bent-Neck Lady coming out of the shadows behind her. The opening credits start rolling at 6:55.
Creep Factor (15:48): Olivia has kissed Nell on the forehead and walked away. The camera closes in on Nell’s face and then pans away to reveal the Bent-Neck Lady hanging above her. Nell starts to panic. It then switches to adult Nell sitting on a bed in the middle of the day at 16:19.
Jump Scare (29:32): A woman puts her arm around Hugh and proceeds to stroke his face. When he turns over, he sees that she’s cloaked in shadow. At 30:01 she screams and Hugh startles awake.
Creep Factor (32:53): Hugh has come into Steven’s room to wake him up. At this time stamp, the doorknob slowing starts turning back and forth but nothing happens. When they start running down the hall at 34:48, you’ll see a woman in white chasing after them a few seconds later. The doors slam shut once they leave the house.
Jump scare (37:46): The camera cuts from Nell dancing by herself in Hill House to Theodora sleeping. As soon as the clock switches to 3:03 a.m., Theo startles awake at exactly 38:04. The rest of the Crain family siblings follow.
Jump scare (39:48): Steven tries to go back to sleep after suddenly being woken up at 12:03 a.m., but water droplets landing on his face forces him out of bed to inspect a leaking hole in the ceiling. At the timestamp, a horn will suddenly sound.
Jump scare (57:39): At 56:13, Steven turns on the light and reveals Nell standing in his apartment. He gets a call from his dad and turns around to look at Nell, who appears right in front of him (with a musical cue). Her eyes will go white, her face will go gray, and she’ll try to talk and then disappear. Steve falls to the floor and the episode ends shortly thereafter.
Episode 2 ‘Open Casket’
Jump scare (0:14): This is a repeat of the scene from the previous episode where Shirley jolts awake in bed. It’s the first thing you see following the black screen. The credits roll right after.
Jump scare (9:16): This scene starts with Shirley raising the camera to take a picture of the kittens. When the light goes off, there will be a face in the background. A small jump scare comes at 9:40, when she takes a second picture and we see a close up of the face and the sound of the shutter on the camera is intensified.
Jump scare (19:49): Something is banging on the walls in Shirley’s room, hard enough to move the pictures. It gets more intense until the girls start screaming, and then Hugh runs into the room at 20:46. He reassures them, and then says, “It’s over now, right?” The next time he opens his mouth (at 21:29) to say, “It’s over,” his eyes will go white, his mouth will slightly elongate, and he’ll sort of groan out his words. Adult Shirley will then suddenly wake up in the present.
Creep factor (24:40): I’m including the whole scene with the kittens, as I know some people don’t want to see horror related to animals. Beginning at this timestamp, Shirley discovers one of the kittens is dead. As her father digs a grave for it, he and Olivia explain what a eulogy is. While looking at the dead kitten in the box, Shirley thinks it starts breathing again and pulls it out, comforting it. We get several closeups of its face, and at 27:35, its mouth opens and a bug crawls out.
Creep factor (33:56): This is a continuation of the kitten scene. We see Nell and Shirley enter the room. Nell notices something is wrong with the kittens, and Shirley starts poking them to see if any are still alive. One meows and she picks it up. At 34:35, the kitten will open its eyes, which are white, and Shirley will scream. It’ll then return to adult Shirley as she’s fixing up her sister in the morgue.
Creep factor (45:29): Right after Shirley tells (dead) Nell, “I’m sorry,” Nell’s mouth will begin to subtly move. About 10 seconds later, a bug will crawl out of it. Shirley jumps and starts crying, but the scene almost immediately concludes.
Jump scare (47:20): Shirley leans out the door to the morgue to shut off the lights. When she turns back, she sees her mother on the table next to Nell (there’s a small musical cue). Olivia then sits up, her body dirty and her eyes white, and turns to Shirley. She smiles, and presents the box they had buried the kitten in. At about 48:02, the box opens at the same time you hear a noise from a kitten. After that, Shirley turns the light back on and her mother is gone. The episode ends shortly after.
Episode 3 ‘Touch’
Creep factor (0:18): The door to Theo’s room swings open and we don’t see who enters. Someone gets into bed with her and takes her hand. Theo, thinking it’s Nell, complains that she’s squeezing too hard. When she turns over to look at her, no one is there. Right after, the opening credits roll.
Creep factor (13:40): After Theo’s been dancing for a while, she turns off the TV and the camera immediately goes to the doorknob, which starts turning aggressively. Right at 14:00, Theo reaches for the knob and there’s a bang against the wall. She looks under the door, yells at Luke, and then goes back to dancing. At 14:41, the scene switches to adult Theo dancing in a club.
Jump scare (18:10): Theo closes the door to the dumbwaiter on Luke and accidentally sends him down to the basement. He lands at 18:31 and looks around the room with his flashlight, which starts to flicker at 19:03. At 19:06, am arm reaches out behind a barrel, followed by Luke saying, “There’s something down here.” The camera goes back to Theo, and then back to Luke. When the light comes back on, a ghost (who looks more like a zombie) is crawling across the floor toward him while he screams. At 19:35, Hugh and Olivia show up to rescue him.
Jump scare (20:42): Adult Theo is asleep in bed when the covers start getting pulled off her. She wakes up, and at 21:02, we see Mr. Smiley at the end of her bed (with a musical cue). Theo immediately turns on the light, and then Shirley knocks on her door to tell her about Nell.
Jump scare (38:05): Theo and her mom are talking when Olivia puts her hand on her daughter’s. At 38:12, Theo looks down at her mom’s hand and sees blood. When she looks up again at exactly 38:15, there’s a musical cue and we see one side of Olivia’s face covered in blood. Theo screams, but when the camera goes back to Olivia, she’s fine.
Creep factor (51:07): Hugh grabs Theo’s arm and you can tell she’s able to feel and understand what’s happening on their last night at Hill House. There’s a montage of creepy events, which include a few ghosts that might be a bit scary, but it’s pretty quick and nothing else comes of it. The episode ends shortly after, following Adult Theo asking Trish to touch her.
Episode 4 ‘The Twin Thing’
Creep factor (12:23): Luke wakes up suddenly at 12:03 a.m. When he looks at the foot of his bed, he sees Nell, who struggles to talk but manages to say, “Go.”
Jump scare (13:28): Luke and Nell are debating how they can shake the last button loose from the speaking tube when it falls out. They hear someone say something from the other end, so Luke goes upstairs to check it out. At 14:22, you can very clearly hear someone say, “Clara,” and then you see an old woman’s reflection move on the horn. Luke runs downstairs, calling for Nell. The scene then switches to adult Luke getting out of bed.
Jump scare (18:06): Luke is looking around the park when he spots a man in a top hat. At 18:21 a dog suddenly barks loudly, capturing his attention.
Creep factor (18:34): Young Luke is laying in bed, having trouble sleeping. He hears something in the hallway, so at 20:12, he leans out his door, looking one way and then the next. He sees a tall figure with a cane floating from one room to another. Luke shuts the door and hides under his bed. At 21:20, the door opens and the figure comes in, slowly looking at one bed and then the other. He takes his hat from Luke’s nightstand, and then goes to leave. Luke lets out his breath, which alerts the man to his presence. At 22:54, the man’s hand lifts up the bed skirt, and a second later we see his face. The scene ends with Luke screaming as it transitions to adult Luke hearing a corn horn honking.
Creep factor (43:25): Luke is pacing on the street, barefoot. We hear his voiceover, and right as he says, “Those taillights, they were the worst,” he turns around and notices the man in the top hat for the first time. The story continues in the meantime, but almost five minutes later (47:58), we see adult Luke pacing on the sidewalk and counting again. This is when the man in the top hat returns, floating backwards as he following Luke. At 48:47, Luke stops and the man continues floating, standing back to back with Luke. When Luke turns around, he sees his mom in the top hat. She says, “Come home, my love.” When she opens her eyes, they’re made of bright lights, and they transform into a car carrying Paige and Steve.
Episode 5 ‘The Bent-Neck Lady’
Jump scare (2:00): Young Nell sits up and looks at the end of her bed. At 2:11, there’s a musical cue as the camera switches and lands on the Bent-Neck Lady, hidden in shadow. At 2:16, there will be another musical cue and she’ll start screaming.
Creep factor (5:22): This is almost an exact repeat of a scene we’ve already seen before, so you should know what’s coming. Young Nell opens her eyes, only to see the Bent-Neck Lady hanging over her. After the wide shot, we get another close-up of the Lady, and we hear her repeating the word “No” over and cover again. The scene fades into adult Nell describing her sleep paralysis.
Creep factor (15:50): We see Nell wake up in bed, but her body is still paralyzed. Arthur gets out of bed to turn the light on to better help her, but he bangs his leg and falls to the ground. At 16:47, the camera starts to pan over, where we see the Bent-Neck Lady standing at the foot of their bed. The music swells, but she doesn’t move. The scene transitions from Nell getting out of bed and crawling over to Arthur to her talking to her therapist.
Jump scare (20:05): The camera begins to zoom in on Nell’s face. When it switches to her perspective at 29:26, there’s a musical cue and we see the Bent-Neck Lady standing in the rain a distance from her car. The camera turns back to inside the car and will look out at the figure one more time, but there’s no more musical cues and nothing happens.
Creep factor (45:50): Nell is lying in bed when she wakes up paralyzed. She looks up at the ceiling and sees Luke hanging there at 46:27, which comes with a musical cue. The music swells and the doorknob to her room starts turning, but when the door opens, we’re in the past as Hugh returns to his children.
Jump scare (51:55): Nell grabs a water bottle from the vending machine and starts drinking it as the lights begin to flicker. They all go out and she heads down the hallway, just as one right where she was standing turns back on. When she turns around again to head back to her room, the Bent-Neck Lady drops down right in front of her on a musical cue, knocking her to the ground. She starts screaming as she looks up at her, but the lights immediately return and the Lady disappears.
*Creep factor (1:07:10): Nell looks from her mother down to her own feet, realizing she’s standing on the edge of the balcony. At 1:07:31, Olivia kisses Nell’s forehead and we see Nell’s body drop and swing from the rope. About 10 seconds later, we get a close-up of her face and broken neck, and then watch her continually drop through scenes we’ve already seen before but this time from the Bent-Neck Lady’s point of view: when Nell is knocked over at the motel, when she sees the figure from her car, when she sees the Lady after Arthur has died, when young Nell hears her repeating the word “No” while hanging over her, and then finally when the Lady screams at the foot of her bed. During this last scene, Nell’s face turns gray and starts to decay, and then the episode abruptly ends.
Episode 6 ‘Two Storms’
Creep factor (8:58): When Theo walks away from Steve as they’re getting drinks, he takes a sip and then turns around to see a dead Nell standing at her casket. He turns back around and tells himself to get it together. At 9:10, he looks behind him again and Nell has moved in closer. After this, he walks back into the other room and starts talking with his siblings.
Creep factor (14:00): After we see young Nell in the casket, the camera pans around to everyone standing there, including the Bent-Neck Lady, who’s in the far background. The camera is on the group for about 40 seconds, but she doesn’t move.
Jump scare (15:30): Hugh walks into Hill House and stops in the foyer at about this time. At 15:37, the chandelier crashes to the floor behind him.
Jump scare (19:30): Hugh moves Nell out of his way and she runs into the room with the statues, looking around like she’s lost and doesn’t know what to do. At 19:37, the lightning reveals the Bent-Neck Lady for the first time, and a few subsequent flashes shows she’s still there. There’s a clap of thunder and Nell screams, but Olivia immediately rescues her.
Jump scare (28:40): At about this time, Shirley sees the buttons on Nell’s eyes and asks who did it. The boys walk up to the casket and start discussing it when the lights go out (39:14). Hugh is left by the casket as the others try to figure out what’s going on. He hears a noise and the camera pans to reveal the Bent-Neck Lady (39:50) standing at the end of the hallway. It pans back to Hugh and then follows him as he tries to go after her, but she’s gone.
Creep factor (41:45): Olivia will enter the second room after Shirley’s around this timestamp. She’ll check under the bed and then close the chimney to keep the water from coming in. As she exits the room, there’s a clap of thunder and we see an old woman sitting on the bed (42:09). Olivia then walks across the hall where the knob to another room is jiggling. She opens it to reveal a boy in a wheelchair (42:26), who wheels himself out and then disappears.
Creep factor (43:14): Hugh picks up Olivia’s dropped flashlight and then proceeds to follow her throughout the house. Every time he turns a corner after her, she’s somewhere else. At 44:34, the windows will blow out and Hugh will run away. At 44:43, we see Liv standing at another set of windows which will immediately blow out. When Hugh turns back to them, they’re whole and Olivia is no where to be found. The moment ends when Hugh finds her sitting on the floor in the hallway, confused about what’s been going on, and the kids start screaming.
Jump scare (50:15): Hugh and Steve are arguing when Steve shouts, “My problem is that the wrong parent died.” Exactly at this timestamp, Nell’s casket falls over. The group turns to stare at it and the lights almost immediately come back on.
Creep factor (54:23): Luke turns away from Nell’s casket to follow Steve out and back to the hotel. We hear young Nell saying how she was there the whole time but that no one could see her. The camera pans back to the casket, where the Bent-Neck Lady is standing, watching as her family leaves without being able to see her.
Episode 7 ‘Eulogy’
Jump scare (36:40): Hugh looks at the mold growing on the wall and notices it looks to be in the shape of a person. At 36:56, he reaches into the fan, not realizing it’s still on and gets cut. The wound is pretty gory, so if you have a weak stomach, make sure you look away until 37:20.
Jump scare (39:25): Luke reaches for a handful of dirt and says, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Nellie.” Then he looks up, and at 39:44, the camera turns to look at the Bent-Neck Lady standing at her own grave. She says, “Don’t,” and then a hand reaches up and grabs Luke immediately after. When we look into the grave, Olivia is begging him to stay. Steve rescues him and all is well.
Jump scare (48:57): Hugh begins to use a hammer and crowbar on the brick wall, assuming he’s going to see some rats behind it. At 47:29, his arm goes through the wall and almost immediately he looks inside, yells, and falls over backwards. When he turns the flashlight on the wall, we see a dead body. The music swells, but it switches to the next scene, where the cops are taking down the rest of the wall.
Creep factor (54:55): Theo asks her father, “What’s that?” and they notice dirty footprints leading into Shirley’s office. When they get there, they see the Forever Home model destroyed on the floor. At 55:38, we hear wheezing, and a shadow moving on the ground. Olivia crawls out from behind the desk, looking dead and decayed. Theo screams, and Olivia disappears. It’s over when Shirley comes in and discovers the Forever Home.
Episode 8 ‘Witness Marks’
Creep factor (21:44): For a good portion of the episode, Shirley has been dealing with someone knocking on her door and window, but it isn’t until she tries to drag Theo out of the funeral home that things escalate. The first knock comes just as they reach the door. When Shirley opens it, no one is there. As soon as it clicks shut at 22:04, the knocks start coming on the window as well. They grow increasingly louder and more frequent until they suddenly stop at 22:29. Shirley’s cell phone rings, and the scene changes back to Steve and Hugh in the car.
Jump scare (33:01): This is, in my opinion, the scariest moment in the entire series. The scene starts at 33:01, with Shirley and Theo in the car. As their talk escalates into a fight, the Bent-Neck Lady will stick her head between them from the back seat and scream at exactly 34:54. This comes right after Theo says, “I’m not trying to make excuses,” Shirley continues her previous sentence, “…or your bullshit,” and Theo ends on, “I saw–” The car goes off the road after this, the two get out, and Theo tells Shirley everything.
Creep factor (40:27): Luke throws the lighter to try to ignite the gasoline, but it doesn’t work. When he looks up at the staircase, he sees Olivia, who reaches a hand out for him. The camera will go back to Luke, back to Olivia, and then back to Luke again at 40:57, as he says, “Mom.” Behind him, there will be a ghost, who will grab his face two seconds later. The episode ends right after this.
Episode 9 ‘Screaming Meemies’
Creep factor (9:18): Olivia opens the door to her reading room, only to reveal it’s Shirley’s morgue. At first it’s empty, but when she looks away and back again, adult Nell is lying on the table. She backs away and knocks into Luke’s body on the floor. The music starts to get creepier, and at 10:20, Nell sits up. Her eyes are white and her teeth are gray. She tries talking, but her mouth is wired shut. Nell then grabs a pair of scissors to cut the wire, and starts crying, “Mommy!” Olivia is so shocked, she falls down, but when she hits the ground, she’s on the floor of her reading room.
Jump scare (14:38): Olivia gets out of bed to see if anyone is in the hallway, but it’s empty. At 14:48, there’s a musical cue and we see a woman standing over Hugh. She doesn’t look dead, and all she does is get Olivia to follow her.
Creep factor (31:57): Right after Olivia says, “I love it,” she looks in the mirror and we see adult/dead Nell and Luke sitting behind her. Nell asks, “Mommy?” and Olivia punches the mirror.
Jump scare (47:03): Hugh is running down the hallway to get to Steve’s room when he senses something behind him. At 47:13, there’s a musical cue as we see what he’s looking at — a group of ghosts standing in front of him. When he turns around again, he sees the tall man in the top hat coming up the stairs. At 47:36, there’s another musical cue and reveal, but this time it’s as Olivia is walking past the windows.
Creep factor (48:13): The woman in blue says, “He wants to take them away from you,” at the start of this sequence. At 48:26, an old woman says, “She lies,” in a creepy voice. Olivia turns to see the old woman. She looks dead and decaying, but she’s otherwise harmless. Olivia follows her into the room, where we see the old woman in bed as they talk. Hugh then opens the door and takes Steve away while Liv chases after them.
Episode 10 ‘Silence Lay Steadily’
Creep factor (6:55): Hugh and Steve are running through the house when Steve looks behind him and sees the tall man standing in a doorway. He ignores it and follows his father, who stops him before they go up the stairs to the Red Room because Abigail is sitting there (7:12). The tall man walks past them into the room, and then at 7:34, he leans down and comes face to face with Steve, who only looks at his father. At 7:55, the tall man leans back and walks away.
Creep factor (12:08): Leigh is talking about how the baby isn’t real when she lifts up her shirt and we see dark veins on her stomach. When she says, “If she is, my love…” (at 12:31), her face begins to go gray and her eyes go white. She leans back in the chair and we see aerial view of her, right before Nell calls to Steve and wakes him up.
Creep factor (13:20): This is a repeat of the scene at the end of episode 8. The ghost grabs Luke’s face at 13:54.
Creep factor (17:42): Joey says, “Oh, Gordon was right. If you look at the wallpaper long enough, you’ll see that little girl.” Then she’ll turn to Luke and say, “It’s the little girl with the runny-egg eyes,” and her eyes will melt.
Jump scare (18:12): The door is open and Steve rushes in to help Luke. Hugh yells, “Steve, wait!” and as soon as Steve turns around, there will be a musical cue and Poppy will be standing in front of him. She puts him to sleep by touching his forehead. Hugh tries to open the door, but the mold spreads to him. Right after, Shirley and Theo enter the house and there are some ominous musical bangs. They hear Hugh calling for them. At 19:27, Theo calls out for Shirley, and when she turns back to her dad, Poppy puts her to sleep, too.
Creep factor (26:41): The mortician says, “But she is pretty, isn’t she?” The camera will go back to Shirley in the casket, where she’ll sit up, with her eyes still closed. At 26:58, she’ll pull out her eyes and start scratching her face. It’ll end on a strangled scream, and Nell saying, “Shirley,” before she wakes up in the Red Room with a gasp.
Creep factor (31:28): It starts out with Trish going down on Theo, saying, “Just enjoy me. I’m loving you.” Immediately, a gray, dead hand reaches up to stroke Theo’s face, followed by more trying to smother her. Nell calls for her and Theo takes her hand, waking up.
Creep factor (42:21): Hugh wakes up on the floor and pulls out his pills. Once he takes one, he tosses the bottle on the ground and it lands at Poppy’s feet (42:54). She recites a creepy story to him in verse, but Olivia stops her from doing anything worse. She’s off the screen by 44:30.