WARNING: HUGE SPOILERS
By now, you’ve probably heard about the anthological masterpiece that is The Haunting of Hill House, and its second season, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Both series are directed by genius Mike Flanagan, who also directed movies like Dr. Sleep and Oculus.
Since Bly Manor is a sequel to Hill House (though the storyline does not continue), there are some similarities snuck in. Many of them are not easy to spot, but all are very clear to viewers of both series.
For instance, both series rely on terror- the buildup of fear in the mind right before the scary thing happens- instead of the typical horror (More on the difference here). This use of terror instead of horror means both series are much scarier than most horror films. Also, Hill House is based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 book of the same name. Bly Manor is based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. The fact that these series are just creepier retellings of two older books is beautiful artistry for you right there.
However, one key difference that is important to note is that Hill House focuses on a family who all knew each other before the start of the series. However, The Haunting of Bly Manor centers on a cast of characters who do not know each other beforehand- not really, anyway.
The characters are as follows: Miles, Flora, Henry (their uncle), Dani (the nanny), Jamie (the gardener), Owen (the cook), and Hannah (the housekeeper).
This detail is, well, haunting.
However, this isn’t about differences. Without further ado, here are some of the very best similarities.
Keen viewers may notice right off the bat an eerie similarity in the score for Bly Manor. It is almost identical to that of its predecessor, in particular the main titles for each (Listen to Bly’s here and Hill House’s here). This might just be to show that the two series are meant to go together, but it also might be a sign of something else.
Flanagan has come out and said that The Haunting of Bly Manor is very different from Hill House, and stands as its own series. So then why the similarity there?
Right off the bat, Hill House’s theme gives off a much darker feeling than that of Bly Manor. While this difference might not seem huge, it is. The lighter key of Bly Manor’s opening credits, and subsequently the other music, give off an almost whimsical vibe. That same lightheartedness is seen throughout much of the beginning of the series, with nothing majorly creepy happening until the second episode. However, both tell us that not all is right, and something is very wrong.
This is one of the less obvious similarities between the two shows. When Miles receives the letter from his sister, Flora, in episode 2, she writes ‘Come home, Miles’ in crayon. This is exactly the same as the message Nell finds under the wallpaper in Hill House. The message is also written in crayon. Again, this detail tells the audience nothing is as it seems. This hint is as scary as the Lady of the Lake.
In the very first episode of The Haunting of Hill House, we see a young Hugh reassuring his daughter Nell after she sees the Bent-Neck Lady (him assuming she is a nightmare and not a real ghost). Hugh tells Nell that “Our dreams spill sometimes.” Flanagan brings this theme back in Bly Manor with an arc spanning the entire 9 episode series. In the second series, the concept of dream hopping is explored. Dream hopping is when a character finds themselves lost in a memory they have, and this memory usually repeats. Although it seems like reality, the character is aware that this is a memory stuck on a loop. In Bly Manor, we see Flora, Hannah, Peter (Henry’s old assistant), and Rebecca (the old nanny) all dream hop.
Throughout the entire series, Hannah is dead. She does not become aware of this fact until episode 5 when her backstory (and how she died) is revealed. In the first episode, however, we see Hannah staring down the well when Dani arrives. In the first episode of Hill House, Nell sees the Bent-Neck Lady (who is later revealed to be her future, dead, self). Do you see the parallel here? Both of them are seeing their dead bodies.
Viewers of the first series will remember Nell’s ghost’s monologue at the end of the series, comparing moments to confetti. Similarly, in the last episode of Bly Manor, Hannah’s ghost tells Henry’s ghost, “When he checks the well, please tell Owen I’m sorry. Tell him I love him…And the rest, well, it’s just…”, and then she disappears because the spell over the manor is broken. Although we never got to hear her say it, Flanagan has confirmed her last word would’ve been confetti.
Although there are so many comparisons to be made between the two series, there are only so many I can do justice to here. If you are interested in finding out more, Buzzfeed has a great article. Or better yet, go rewatch the series on Netflix! You know you want to!