“The Haunting of Bly Manor” Review

Story by Lane Phifer, Multimedia Editor

In case you’re still traumatized by the Netflix original series “The Haunting of Hill House,” you might need to prepare for more frightening encounters in the second season “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” which premiered on Oct. 9. 

Similar to television series such as “American Horror Story,” or “Black Mirror,” each season of “The Haunting” has a different storyline and new characters to meet. 

When I first discovered that the series was getting a second season, I was thrilled to see what stunning forms of horror, storytelling and filming would occur throughout the show. 

While Hill House had more of a cinematic touch to it, with the 16 minute long one-take shot in episode six, “Two Storms,” and how the filming decisions made it all the more suspenseful, Bly’s storytelling did the first season justice even if the filming wasn’t as impressive or as frightening. 

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is based on Henry James’ novel “The Turn of The Screw.” Bly tells the story of American Danielle Clayton, also known as Dani (Veronica Pedretti), who is hired by Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), uncle of Miles ( Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and Flora Wingrave’s (Amelie Bea Smith) to become the children’s live-in au pair. 

Once she arrives at the manor, Dani meets housekeeper Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller), cook Owen Sharma (Rahul Kohli) and the gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve).

After several months of working together, Dani and Jamie develop a romantic relationship as do Owen and Hannah. 

Despite the recurring theme of romance, there’s also a pattern of loss. From Miles and Flora’s parents dying in a car accident, Dani losing her fiance after coming out to him and calling off the wedding, to Owen losing his mother to dementia and more, death occurs often throughout the season. 

In episode five “The Altar of the Dead,” we discover that before Dani’s arrival to the manor, Hannah was pushed into the well by Miles, who was possessed by Henry’s assistant Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and that she had been dead all along. 

Each of the ghosts that died at Bly Manor, whether they died by the grasps of the faceless Lady of the Lake or by accident, are stuck in a never-ending loop of “dream-hopping” and being “tucked away,” where they often venture between the past, present and future. 

Spirits that are trapped within the loop of the Lady of the Lake’s neverending purgatory eventually start to forget who they are, what day it is, along with what they look like. Hence why the Lady of the Lake has no face as do a majority of the other ghosts haunting the property. 

With the chillingly haunting backstory for the Lady of the Lake, also known as Viola Lloyd (Kate Siegel), director Jack Clayton and screenwriters Mike Flanagan, Greg Sestero, Alex Essoe and even Kate Siegel herself did a tremendous job with telling the story of Bly Manor and the reasons for its strange paranormal activity. 

In order to prevent Flora from being a part of the Lady of the Lake’s endless cycle, Dani allows Viola to merge herself into her. Changing her left eye that was once blue to brown, Dani becomes haunted by Viola’s spirit and releases all of the ghosts that were within the Lady of the Lake’s grasp. 

After roughly nine years of having Viola’s spirit merged with Dani’s, the former au pair returns to Bly Manor to drown herself in the lake to end the cycle once and for all.  

Unlike Hill House, the season dedicated its first several episodes to the audience getting to know the characters which are what made Hannah and Dani’s loss a lot harder than we anticipated. However, when it comes to horror in my own personal opinion, Bly Manor was nowhere near the fear factor of Hill House.

Despite this, Bly Manor brought something new to “the Haunting” series and while the first season is monumentally better, Bly Manor was a success all on its own for different reasons. 

From the storytelling, character development, sense of suspense and more, I believe that if you enjoyed the storytelling in season one of “the Haunting” series, watching season two for yourself may just be the right kind of horror series you need to witness this October.