THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR is the sequel to the Netflix horror series megahit The Haunting of Hill House. This time, the story is based on several stories by Henry James. It’s a slow-burn that delivers a very different kind of horror. Read our full The Haunting of Bly Manor review here!
THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR is the new Netflix horror series by Mike Flanagan. It’s a sequel to The Haunting of Hill House series but in an anthology sense. The story and characters are all different – exactly as you know it from the American Horror Story series.
Recommended reading: Our review of The Haunting of Hill House here >
Please, do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers. There will be plenty to go over once you’ve watched all nine episodes in this season 2 of The Haunting Netflix series. It’s a slow-burn that delivers fully in the end. However, it’s also a very different kind of horror – and pain – driving the plot this time around.
Essentially, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a horror love story. And a glorious one at that!
Have any questions about the ending? Read our Bly Manor Ending Explained Feature >
Continue reading our The Haunting of Bly Manor review below. We’ve watched all 9 episodes in the season for this review.
Season 2 based on stories by Henry James
With this new season of The Haunting, we’re getting a true horror love story based on several stories by Henry James. Mostly his classic 1898 “The Turn of the Screw”. However, this time the classic tale is told as a hybrid story incorporating many other works by Henry James. None of which will be named here to avoid spoilers.
In case you didn’t know, The Haunting of Hill House was based on Shirley Jackson’s novel (of the same name) from 1959.
The story in Bly Manor plays out (mostly) in England in the 1980s. This means no smartphones or other similar distractions. And yet, also a very familiar world in most ways. The cast is full of familiar faces from The Haunting of Hill House along with actors you’ve seen in other Mike Flanagans productions. And yes, also a few new ones.
All of the actors, with no exception, are absolutely brilliant and very memorable. This is one thing The Haunting of Bly Manor has in common with its predecessor Hill House. Still, some characters are bound to leave a bigger impression than others – both for good and bad deeds.
A slow-burn love story is perfectly splendid
Just as it was the case with Hill House, the story evolves in a slow-burn manor. For me, episode 5 was when a lot clicked into place. As I expect it will for most, due to the nature of the episode. The second time this happened was with the penultimate episode 8, which we won’t spoil in any way.
Mind you, this is not to say – in any way – that the first four episodes aren’t good. They definitely are! What they are used for, mostly, is setting the stage for the final half of the series. The final episode is full of love and heartbreak in the most beautiful of ways.
What The Haunting of Bly Manor does, more than anything is set us up for heartbreak. Not just in terms of romantic love – though it is mostly that – but also in terms of friendship and family. Some characters come from downright shitty families but manage to turn their life around when they find love elsewhere. Others never manage to get on the right track.
In the end, though, the slow-burn approach to all kinds of love ensures that we understand the nuances of love. From betrayal to forgiveness as well as the difference between absolute surrender and unconditional love. Because yes, there is a huge difference between the two as illustrated perfectly by two of the love stories in Bly Manor.
A classic ghost story
While I do prefer to call The Haunting of Bly Manor a “horror love story”, it is also very much a ghost story. Part of the love story revolves around living and loving while you can. And also, the power of love even after we are no longer alive. What might keep us lingering around? Sometimes it’s love and at other times, it can be spite and betrayal.
As mention earlier, this story features a lot of familiar faces. The star of this season is the American nanny, Dani Clayton, who is portrayed perfectly by Victoria Pedretti. She played the sweet Nell in Hill House and has since then shown other sides of her talent in season 2 of You on Netflix.
Also back from Hill House in a big role is Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Peter Quint. A name that will be familiar to anyone who knows The Turning of the Screw (or even the new movie The Turning based on the book). Oliver Jackson-Cohen has a Scottish accent that works extremely well for his Peter Quint. In fact, everything works with his portrayal of this character.
Another character from that story is the former nanny, Rebecca Jessel who is portrayed by Tahirah Sharif. She, too, does an excellent job though her character is ultimately one of the meeker in the bunch.
The heart of Bly Manor
The beating heart of the Bly Manor is made up of the young groundskeeper, Jamie (Amelia Eve), the sweetheart of a chef, Owen (Rahul Kohli), and, of course, the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (T’Nia Miller). All three of these key Bly Manor characters are portrayed with so much heart and intensity that they should quickly win you over.
Especially T’Nia Miller (who was also brilliant in Years and Years) does breathtaking work in episode 5. Her character, Hannah Grose, and that of Owen is one of the sweetest love stories. Their chemistry is obvious from the beginning and their relationship is very sweet. However, never forget that this is a horror series!
Still, these three characters and their interactions with the new American nanny, Dani, who cannot make a decent cup of tea to save her life (no, that’s not a spoiler!) build the world that you immediately want to become more familiar with.
Henry Thomas plays Henry Wingrave, who owns Bly Manor and hires Dani to watch his orphaned niece and nephew.
The two kids, Flora and Miles, are portrayed by Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth. Kids can be tricky in horror production, but Mike Flanagan clearly knows how to make it work. The young actors perfectly portray these kids that seem “off” from the first time we meet them.
And yes, both Carla Gugino and Kate Siegel from Hill House are in Bly Manor as well. However, telling you who they portray would be huge spoilers, so you’ll just have to wait and see for yourself. Trust that they are both (of course) in key roles, even if they might not have much screentime.
Watch The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix
Apart from Mike Flanagan himself directing [only the opening episode], there are several other directors on board this time. They are Ciaran Foy (Eli), Liam Gavin (the amazing A Dark Song), Yolanda Ramke & Ben Howling (Cargo), Axelle Carolyn (Soulmate), and E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills).
What might be surprising is the fact that each episode is written by a different author and yet, it feels extremely coherent. Of course, this is due to Mike Flanagan being the creator and securing the entire story. This is storytelling at its finest. From the horrors of classic ghost stories to the deepest philosophic thoughts about life and death as well as love and loss.
Part of me wants to give this season the same top-rating that Hill House received. The more time that passes from having watched it in its entirety, the more I absolutely love it. In that sense, Bly Manor lingers in a different way than Hill House did. Honestly, I would probably have given this season a top-rating if it had been the first season.
Hill House left some extremely big shoes to fill. Especially in terms of horror. The second-highest rating to this season is mostly due to the slower four episodes in the beginning. However, I would never argue with anyone wanting to give it a top rating and I would flat out refuse any rating lower than four. This season stands on its own as a glorious gothic, yet modern, love story!
And I, for one, am absolutely enamored with The Haunting of Bly Manor in its entirety. It is, quite frankly, perfectly splendid.
All nine episodes of The Haunting of Bly Manor are out on Netflix worldwide from October 9, 2020.
Creator: Mike Flanagan
Stars: Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Rahul Kohli, Amelia Eve, T’Nia Miller, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, and Tahirah Sharif.
THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR, the next highly anticipated chapter of The Haunting anthology series, is set in 1980s England. After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) hires a young American nanny (Victoria Pedretti) to care for his orphaned niece and nephew (Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) who reside at Bly Manor with the estate’s chef Owen (Rahul Kohli), groundskeeper Jamie (Amelia Eve) and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose (T’Nia Miller). But all is not as it seems at the manor, and centuries of dark secrets of love and loss are waiting to be unearthed in this chilling gothic romance. At Bly Manor, dead doesn’t mean gone.