Netflix Review: “The Haunting of Bly Manor” Is Not Perfectly Splendid

October 16, 2020

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of HorrorFuel.com. She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email: horrorfuelinfo@gmail.com

Last year, when Netflix aired the genre series “The Haunting of Hill House,” I had no clue that a series could ever reach the ranks it did in my book. A nearly perfect series unfolded before, and I was left bragging about it to anyone who would listen. I’ve seen the series four times since the first time I was introduced to the Crian family. 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. Let’s not forget the ghosts of those who died throughout the past at Bly Manor, which play an essential 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 terrible by any means, but it doesn’t live up to the hype.

 

Another issue I have is with the multiple scenes that repeat sections of the story repeatedly. 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 exact quote said over and over and over and over and over only annoys people. They got it if they aimed to get a few viral memes out of it.

 

Several “Hill House” stars return, including Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen,  Kate Siegel, and Elizabeth Reaser. New cast members include Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin 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 scarier than “Hill House” when it’s something different. Mike Flanagan even described it as scarier than “Hill House.” “Hill House” was all about terror, dread, death, and fear, whereas “Bly Manor” is about love, loss, and regret and happens to have ghosts.

 

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is filled with fantastic 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 watching it now that it is streaming on Netflix.

 

 

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