Last year when Netflix aired the genre series The Haunting of Hill House, well I had no clue that a series could ever reach the ranks that it did in my book. A nearly perfect series unfolded before and I was left bragging about it to anyone who would listen. Since the first time I was introduced to the Crian family, I’ve seen the series 4 times.
So imagine my excitement when “The Haunting of Bly Manor” was announced, I was ecstatic, to put it mildly. With many of “Hill House’s” cast returning I knew in my heart that this season would be just as good as the first, you could say that I had high hopes. But did it stand up to my expectations? That’s what I’m here to discuss.
Based on Henry James’ Turning of the Screw as well as a few other of James’ stories, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is a haunting tale of a young American teacher who movies into a large estate to take care of two orphaned children. But that’s just the tip of the story. Filled with tales of love, past traumas, life, and death, the series plays out while exploring the lives of the teacher, the maid, the chef, the landscaper, the previous nanny, a crook, an alcoholic, emotionally constipated uncle, and two kids going through a trauma no child should ever have to, losing their parents. Oh, let’s not forget the ghosts of those who died throughout the past at Bly Manor which play an important part in the story.
I found the story intriguing and spooky, but I never jumped in my seat or felt my pulse rise. I find it lacks the scares and terror of its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was bad by any means, but it just doesn’t live up to the hype.
Another issue I have is with the multiple scenes that repeat sections of the story over and over and over. Personally, I found it taxing and slightly obnoxious. It was just a bit much. And Jesus, if I never hear “perfectly splendid” again it will be too soon! The same quote said over and over and over and over and over only annoys people. If they were aiming to get a few viral memes out of it, they got it.
Several stars of “Hill House” return including Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, and Elizabeth Reaser. New cast members include Amelie Bea Smith, Benjiman Evan Ainsworth, Rahul Kohli, Amelia Eve, Tahirah Sharif, and T’Nia Miller. All were simply splendid. I found myself very impressed by the young stars. I think they both have a great future in film.
I think one of the issues with viewers’ somewhat negative opinions of the series was caused by the PR campaign. It was advertised and teased as being scarier than “Hill House” when it’s something altogether different. Mike Flanagan even described it as scarier than “Hill House.” “Hill House” was all about terror, dread, death, and fear, where “Bly Manor” is at its heart about love, loss, and regret and just happens to have ghosts in it.
“The Haunting of Bly Manor,” is filled with amazing cinematography and is set in a stunning location.
It’s beautiful and elegant and complex. That’s why it is getting a 4 out of 5. I strongly recommend that watch it now that it is streaming on Netflix.