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Here's the way I understood it: The husband was killed in the trenches, and is doomed to haunt that place (as his wife and children are doomed to haunt the mansion). He comes home to visit his children, but eventually returns to the front. It is also hinted that his relationship with his wife was strained even when they were alive, and that this strain is ...
Let's start from your second question: why is he there? Obviously, to increase the eerie factor and to further convince the audience that Grace and her children have a haunted house problem at hand. Now, in the context of the movie, which I believe is what you want to know, I don't think it is ever explained how this whole ghost thing works, so I can only ...
I don't think they actually think about what happened after "mother wen mad". Grace explains her experience of their death like this Grace: I tried to wake you up... But you didn't move. I said to myself: "It's happened... I've killed my own children". I put the rifle to my forehead and pressed the trigger... But nothing happened, and instead of the ...
I would think so as the car that family moving in are driving are 1930s (I think it's Christler Duesenberg). Husband going and not comming back from second world war (1939-1945) and them knowing that war is over, would imply that it's around 1945+. This then makes it probable that she indeed died only a while ago.
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