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Monday, October 26, 2020

The Haunting of Bly Manor first impression: The follow-up to Haunting of Hill House is off to a great start

The Haunting of Bly Manor's story concerns a haunted house in rural England called Bly Manor. Victoria Pedretti's Dani Clayton is the new governess to two orphan children who inhabit the house along with a housekeeper.

Written by Kshitij Rawat | New Delhi | October 11, 2020 6:32:24 pm
The Haunting of Bly Manor , Haunting of Bly Manor , Haunting of Bly Manor reviewThe Haunting of Bly Manor is streaming on Netflix. (Photo: Netflix)

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House, which was also created by Mike Flanagan. Both are part of the anthology series The Haunting. While Hill House tackled Shirley Jackson’s iconic horror novel of the same name, Bly Manor uses material from another famous piece of horror fiction, the late 19th-century novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

The story concerns a haunted house (which I suppose is going to be the only constant in this series) in rural England called Bly Manor. Victoria Pedretti’s Dani Clayton is the new governess to two orphan children who inhabit the house along with a housekeeper. Clayton is told by her employer and the children’s uncle, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), that the last governess died on the premises.

The first episode has Dani arriving at the Manor, and she begins to see strange people who the children’s uncle never mentioned were living inside the building. Also, Dani, who is an American, may have brought her own demons (literal ones) to the house. She keeps seeing a figure with holes for eyes in the mirror.

The children are clearly aware of the ghostly presence and even appear to communicate with them.

All that being said, The Haunting of Bly Manor is not scary, at least not so far. There are no jump scares, or any other kind of scares for that matter. The atmosphere is creepy, yes, but even ghostly appearances are portrayed as demons from the past than actual demons.

The episode, titled The Great Good Place, is well-directed and acted. The visual style and cinematography (by James Kniest and Maxime Alexandre) is classic Flanagan. It is very cinematic and helps build tension due to a distinctive ambience.

The performances are great, though some of the accents, especially of Henry Thomas, are going to take some getting used to. The good thing is, Wingrave is not a lead character, and that can be overlooked.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is off to a great start. The first episode was a perfect setup for the story, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Stay tuned for the full review.

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