In the surreal world that we live in time is a bit of a misnomer. Would you believe it’s been two years since The Haunting of Hill House surprised and scared us? The surprise wasn’t so much that Mike Flannigan made a scary good TV show but that his Netflix was so emotionally satisfying. A story about ghost was more a story about family. The expectations of any follow-up would be high. The Haunting of Bly Manor as a successor is a different beast. Whether it is worth your time…well that’s why you have to read the review.
Dani, an American au pair is hired to look after two orphaned children Flora and Miles after their previous nanny committed suicide. The estate where the children live appears to have many secrets and hauntings that come to a head once the new nanny arrives and their rich guardian has little time but much money to throw at the problems.
Bly Manor does not set out to be a horror film. It’s a love story with ghosts in it an expectation that the series sets the audience up for straight away. Still this a story that is filled with detail hauntings that are crafted to make this a Gothic and creepy atmosphere not necessarily to startle you. It is layered with a sense of tragedy and unfinished business and while this isn’t necessarily a scary series it is unnerving at times.
The spooky atmosphere is unsurprising but only works if the story and the cast are its equals. The cast shines equally across the board from the lead of Victoria Pedretti to the delightful child actors. There is a grounded quality to all performances. My particular favourite is the absolute delightful chemistry of T’Nia Miller and Rahul Kohli who is both warm and filled with a very polite British quality that works so well. Even the villain of the show is given time and space to act out as to three dimensions.
It is the emotion of the story that will get you in the end though. This is a story that is written against the backdrop of tragedy but also the sometimes triumph of love. If you take the time with almost all the characters, they will reward you with something a deeper and heartfelt emotions.
It’s not a perfect show, Bly Manor is more than happy to go at its own pace. It takes time with details and is no hurry to get where its going. This will frustrate some people and because its not scary its twists are at time obvious. Still much like Hill House before it when you realise the internal logic of the series then it has the potential to blow you away.
There is one substantial misstep that Bly Manor makes and it’s the second to last episode of the series, The Romance of Old Clothes doesn’t work. It kills momentum and raises a whole bunch of questions as well as much as doles out answers to the Lady in the lake mystery. This is hardly the first show that but maybe that makes it less excusable.
The Haunting of Bly Manor Review Cheat Sheet.
While deliberately not as suspenseful as its predecessor more than makes up for with heart and atmosphere. Bly Manor is at times slow and might turn some off in the process but for me it was a perfectly splendid experience. Rewarding, emotional and atmospheric.
Where to watch: Netflix