I absolutely loved The Haunted Hill House when it was released on Netflix last year. I wanted a second season, but I knew it couldn̵
For starters, this isn’t “typical” horror (if there was such a thing). It’s a subtle horror, with what’s going on in the background often far more terrifying than what’s right in front of you. It’s my favorite type of horror (well, nearly) as it feels more realistic than a lot of scary horror films.
Bly Manor is also multi-faceted horror because it’s almost a horror story within a horror story within a horror story. In a haunted house. There’s a lot going on here and you really have to pay close attention to everything that happens. After figuring out many of the key plot points, I wanted to look back at them a second time to catch the little things I missed the first time.
It starts off slowly but hits a high note around episode 4
The story begins with a rehearsal dinner for a wedding. It’s unclear who is getting married (at least at the beginning), but it’s obvious that there is some story between some of the characters in the wedding reception. It starts with a speech and then moves on to drinks and people-to-people stories when a woman speaks and says she has “a story” but quickly realizes that it isn’t their Story.
This particular bit cannot be overlooked as it sets the tone Bly Manor straight out of the gate. From that point on, that woman is the teller of the story, and there is a moment every or other episode to remind you with a voice-over. Except for one episode controlled by the storyteller, the story tells itself.
There are only nine episodes in the season, and you’ll spend the first couple of episodes getting a feel for the characters in Bly Manor. There’s Bly’s inherited owner, Henry Wingrave; the housekeeper Hannah Grose; the cook Owen; the gardener Jamie; Henry’s niece and nephew, Miles and Flora; and the American au pair the story revolves around, Dani Clayton. Dani is the main character of the show in every way. While these are the main characters, backstories like Peter Quint and Rebecca Jessel are just as important to the entire story.
Each character is nuanced and complex, so you need to figure out what happens too Really continue with each of them. It was known early on that Dani was running away from something, but you will have to watch several episodes to find out what kind of thing it is. It’s also clear from the start that something is going wrong in the mansion, but it’s unclear what it really is. When you’ve watched Hill HouseHowever, check your expectations at the door – this is a completely different type of haunted.
The first handful of episodes sets the precedent for the show, and then turns to episode four where you start getting a backstory. Various backstories will continue into the next handful of episodes – including the expected backstory of The Lady of the Lake in Episode 8 – before it all comes to a close in Episode 9. Interweaving the current story with the backstory can be a little tricky to follow at times (you’re watching yourself, episode five), but it becomes clearer as you get closer to the finale.
It’s a story about horror, but it’s also about love
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard of Bly Manor when it was released was that it’s not as scary as Hill House. That’s true up to a point, especially as you near the finale – it becomes less of a story about ghosts and hauntings, and more a story of people, relationships, emotions, and even love.
But that’s a big part of what it does Bly Manor Special. Every character has a brokenness about them that becomes a bond between them (even if they don’t realize it). They are all very different people with very different stories, but the common thread that connects them all is pain. They ache from one form or another of loss, but find comfort in one another.
And the story of pain applies not only to the living characters in the story, but to the dead as well. I’m not the one offering spoilers so I won’t go into detail there, but the storytelling is heartfelt and genuine in a way that isn’t often found in most horrors.
It’s worth seeing, but not without its own problems
I really enjoyed it The haunted Bly Manor But as with most shows or movies, if you think about it long enough, you will find little quirks everywhere that don’t add up.
If you get lost in each episode, you will almost forget that this is a story told at a gathering, save for the occasional storyteller’s voices. But there are certain elements of the story that make you wonder how the storyteller knew this in the first place – things that seemingly only one or two characters knew about. There are other details too that don’t quite fit together, but I’m not going to mention these to avoid spoilers.
These kinds of moments create little holes in the entire story that is being told, but hey – nothing is perfect. I didn’t find them annoying enough to interrupt the entire flow of the story being told or the beauty within the haunted walls of Bly Manor.
Nuanced or not, Bly Manor is an excellent watch that I wholeheartedly recommend not just to horror fans, but to anyone who loves a good story and just knows how to handle a little horror.