Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Twin Thing”
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Written by Scott Kosar
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Touch” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Bent-Neck Lady” – click here
Young Luke (Julian Hilliard) used to talk a little girl named Abigail, whose spirit wandered the halls of Hill House. He asked her about what he saw in the bootlegging cellar. She was his only friend. No wonder he grew up into Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), the full fledged drug addict.
He spent a lot of time going to meetings as an adult, listening to the stories of others and their respective pain. At rehab, veteran in his group was a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Invasion of Iraq, telling everybody “what happens to eyeballs in a fire“— they can melt, if the fire’s hot enough. Memories plagued him. The man later lost his own sight after getting fucked up on acid and blinding himself. Without eyes, he still saw “the crispy kid with the runny egg eyes” all day, every day.
As a kid, Luke showed his dad Hugh (Henry Thomas) a drawing he did of what he saw in the basement. He said the house was a bad place. Hugh and Olivia (Carla Gugino) passed his concerns off as childish imaginations. Part of Olivia doesn’t fully believe that, she’s sensitive to things like her daughter, like her mother, as well.
At his rehab facility, Luke was getting close with Joey (Anna Enger)— a fellow addict. She lived on the streets a long time, doing whatever was necessary to survive. Luke encouraged her to keep up sobriety even as she doubted herself. They leaned on one another in times of need. One night, Luke woke up just like the rest of his siblings. He saw Nell (Victoria Pedretti) there by his bed. She told him: “Go.”
As kids, Luke and Nell (Violet McGraw) were playing with the gramophone-like contraption used to communicate from floor to floor. The twins were passing buttons through the tube, but one got caught. Then, when they were both downstairs together, the last button came tumbling down frightening them, along with a voice calling the name “Clara.” Worse, a ghostly apparition was visible in the tube’s brass.
Luke woke up the next day after his vision to find Joey left the facility during the night. Everybody assumed they were together, but he was only a friend. Despite that, it’s stressed personal relationships between addicts isn’t a good idea. He’s only worried for his friend. She left him a note – DON’T FOLLOW ME – and this is what prompts him to also leave. The first thing he did was call Nell, receiving no answer. And then he saw a man in the distance wearing a similar bowler hat to the one he found at Hill House, the hat he wore all the time as a boy.
One night, little Luke kept hearing the non-existent dogs outside, and it was accompanied by a light tapping sound from the hallway. He went to see what it was, stumbling upon a horrifying image— a tall, skinny ghost floating above the floor and tapping it with his cane. He closed the door and hid beneath the bed, hearing the tap of the cane come closer. The ghost came inside, going over to Nell’s bed, then coming over to his, as if checking on them both. The ghost takes his bowler hat back. Before it leaves it hears Luke, going back to the bed. It reached under, peering in at Luke while the child screamed.
On the street, Luke found Joey high on drugs. He called Paige (Selena Anduze) at the rehab facility, but getting no help. This left the two of them out there alone. Luke offered to get some cash so they could stay someplace where Joey could get clean again. He wanted to save her, believing it would save him, too. This led him to go see Steven (Michiel Huisman), but he didn’t realise his brother and Leigh (Samantha Sloyan) had split up. Leigh wouldn’t give him any cash, knowing what it could do, and this is how Luke got his brother’s address, where we saw him stealing things in a recent episode.
We’re also given a look at a time before, when Luke and Joey went to Steven and Leigh’s place for dinner while he was out on a day pass from rehab. Steven was worn down by supporting his brother for so long, not really thrilled to hear all the junkie talk, and not excited for whatever relationship Luke had with Joey.
So, Luke went to Steven’s new place and found a few things to rob. On the way downstairs he ran into his older brother, who gave him a couple hundred dollars and the camera to sell. This was able to keep Joey and Luke going for a day or two. Things didn’t go as hopefully planned once Joey ran off, and Luke realised she lifted the money off him. He spent the night on the streets, getting robbed for his jacket and shoes. He reaches Paige on a payphone, who’s there with Steven after Nell’s suicide. Things will only get worse before they get better.
Flashback to little Luke and Nell, as he comforts her when she’s awake at night, scared of the Bent-Neck Lady. He takes her mind off the supernatural terror of Hill House, if only for a minute. He developed a routine as a boy to ward off the scary things, just as he holds onto the routine in current day, pacing back and forth, counting the members of his family over and over. No matter what he does, he can’t get rid of the tall man in the bowler, whose presence follows him everywhere. When he turns around to face the figure, he sees his mother under the hat, her eyes glowing. “Come home, my love,” she beckons to him. Lucky for him, Paige arrives with Steven. This is when Luke’s brother tells him their sister’s dead. However, he believes she didn’t kill herself— he feels something else was responsible, because of his and Nell’s “twin thing.”
“I couldn’t help her”
Father Gore is frothing at the mouth! Flanagan is a favourite filmmaker here on this site. Somehow he defies expectations, every film he makes. Here, the long-form storytelling of a ten-episode season allows him and the other writers to dig into things further than if it were only a feature film. Again, the human drama roots all the supernatural so well that every scene’s compelling.
“The Bent-Neck Lady” is next, and it should be a truly spooky treat!