Netflix Review: The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the latest installment of Mike Flannagan’s anthology series. Following The Haunting of Hill House, the Haunting of Bly Manor follows a young governess overseeing two young children in England's countryside. The show draws inspiration from Henry James’s short stories and his most well-known literature: The Turning of the Screw. The show does an amazing job of incorporating James’s short stories into the series while connecting the show's overarching plot. There were definitely a few things I absolutely loved about this show and a few things that were a miss for me. 

 

    First of all, I thought the cast did an amazing job portraying their characters. I was drawn to each one, trying to determine their life story and whether or not they were ghosts among the living. It's interesting to see how this group of strangers gets to know and care for each other in a matter of days. I loved listening to chef Owen’s ridiculous puns and the quips the other employees of the manor made towards the American governess, Dani. Also, if you’ve seen The Haunting of Hill House, there were many familiar faces among this installment’s cast, such as Victoria Pedretti (who also played Love in Netflix’s “You”), Carla Gugino, and Oliver Jackson-Cohn. 

 

    As much as I loved Bly Manor, it's difficult to not compare it to Hill House. Although Flannagan’s first installment featured more scares and a family dynamic amongst the characters, Bly Manor captivates with its interwoven themes of grief and love. Since there are so many characters involved, the story takes the audience in several different directions, with backstories and flashbacks revealing more about the characters and their relationships, episode after episode. I also enjoyed how Flannagan emphasized this idea that ghosts aren’t just apparitions of people, but they can be places, memories, and feelings such as guilt or love. 

 

One of the aspects of this show that I particularly didn’t like was the pacing. This show really tests your patience, considering the first four episodes are actually quite slow. When I watched the show the first time, it felt like it had all these scattered puzzle pieces, but none of them really fit until I  hit episodes five and six. Even then, I was l left with so many questions, watching this slow-paced storyline continue. There were also times where the story seems to lose focus. Even as the story is building, filling the audience in on the previous inhabitants, the story gets sidetracked and dangles impactful and meaningful ideas that aren’t properly followed. An example of this would be when Jami, the gardener, tells Dani, “people mistake love and possession,” reflecting on the storyline’s theme of both possessive ghostly behavior. 

 

Honestly, it wasn’t until my second rewatch that I finally understood the storyline. I appreciated it the second time around, knowing who the characters were and what to expect. Overall, I thought the show did an amazing job with its nuanced thoughts and ideas. There were just a few aspects of the show I wish they built on. I hope you enjoy watching “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” and a word of advice: keep an eye out for some hidden ghosts throughout the show.