It’s safe to say that The Haunting of Bly Manor has been one of the most highly-anticipated Netflix releases of this year. Released a little more than two years after The Haunting of Hill House, the next instalment in the anthology series is finally here — and just in time for the spooky season, too.
The series, which sees a number of Hill House cast members reunited, is based on the works of Henry James — and in particular, The Turn of the Screw. The 1898 novella, which serves as the jumping off-point for the TV series, is about a young governess who is hired to look after two young children on a sprawling estate.
But she soon finds out that there may be more to the estate — as well as the children — than meets the eye.
In the case of The Haunting of Bly Manor, the main character is Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti). She’s a teacher hired by the wealthy Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) to look after his niece and nephew, ten-year-old Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and eight-year-old Flora (Amelie Bea Smith). After making the journey to Bly, Dani meets the other employees of the Wingrave’s estate: cook Owen (Rahul Kohli), gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve), and housekeeper Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller). And while things go smoothly at the beginning, it isn’t too long until Dani — who is haunted by her own ghosts — realizes there is more to Bly than she ever thought possible.
As the episodes go on, the viewers get more insight into the ghoulish goings-on at the manor — and as the backstories of the residents begin to unravel, it becomes clear that Dani isn’t the only one of them who is haunted by the past.
A number of episodes in the middle of the series explore the backstories of the children in her care, as well as the other employees of Bly Manor; each of whom have their own ghosts lurking in the shadows of the estate. From what caused Miles to be sent home from his boarding school to what really happened to the previous au pair, Miss Jessel, each deep dive into the past of the characters is framed as if they were a memory.
The series also draws on other pieces of James’ work, like The Jolly Corner and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes — the latter of which is the focus of an episode towards the end, and fills in some of the gaps in the terrifying backstory of the manor.
Much like its predecessor, The Haunting of Bly Manor has its fair share of hair-raising, spine-tingling, shriek-out-loud moments.
But fans hoping for a Hill House-style scare-a-thon may find themselves a little bit disappointed, as it’s not quite an all-out horror. Bly Manor is, at its heart, a love story. And while the relationship between Dani and one of the other employees is at the heart of it all, there are a number of other stories — each portraying a different kind of love.
All-in-all, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a haunting, heart-wrenching and absolutely terrifying series. And maybe remember to keep a light on when you’re watching it — just in case.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is available to watch on Netflix now.
Header: The Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)