The Haunting of Bly Manor is Mike Flanagan’s follow up to Hill House in “The Haunting” anthology series. Since the first show received critical acclaim for it’s ingenuity, expectations were understandably high for this entry as well. The story follows an American nanny who is hired to care for two orphans at the dreary and ominous Bly Manor. However, this is anything but your typical horror story. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Haunting of Bly Manor…
Pros: Firstly, there is not a single weak performance in this show. Most of the actors are affecting their truest British accents, and they all do outstanding jobs. The child actors also deserve recognition for their part in holding this tragic story together. Secondly, I like the reuse of the ominous and unsettling score from Hill House. It sets the tone just as well here while also adding an extra layer of connection to the first story. Sometimes anthologies can feel too far removed from others in the series, but Bly Manor feels like a seamless transition from Hill House both visually and thematically.
Cons: While I applaud the unique storytelling process of Mike Flanagan, it is not the easiest to follow. For example, around episode 5 we learn that some characters are actually ghosts and they are stuck reliving their memories. This isn’t impossible to fathom, but as we continue to see characters return to certain memories only to be perturbed themselves, it becomes unclear what the takeaway from such scenes should be. Not only does the pace of the show change halfway through, but so does the direction. Instead of progressing forward at full speed, the story continues through memories using a series of edits. This could certainly be considered a positive for viewers that enjoy finding Easter eggs and hidden meanings in stories. However, I found the change in pace and sudden edits to be jarring midway through the series.
I give The Haunting of Bly Manor a B+. Your expectations may be high after Hill House, but Bly Manor stands out in it’s own uniquely dreadful way. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, there should be no hesitation regardless. Happy Watching!
Where to Watch
- Netflix with Subscription
“I’ve been tucked away again, in another memory.”