A “perfectly splendid” show: The Haunting of Bly Manor


Aryn Looyenga, Reporter (She/her)

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the second series of Mike Flanagan’s “The Haunting” anthology. This production is based on Henry James’ novel “The Turn of the Screw,” similar to Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” novel-based first series.

The narration of The Haunting of Bly Manor begins with a wedding rehearsal and a character who wants to share the haunting story of one of her dear friends. Her story starts by introducing a small family with two children living in Bly Manor, a place in the countryside in England. They have a gardener, housekeeper and cook, but look to fill an au pair, or live-in nanny, position.

As one of the main characters, Dani, struggles with her own trauma, she takes the position to care for the children, Miles and Flora. While in the house, she starts seeing and experiencing strange things.

Throughout the series, each character at Bly has their own episode of telling their past to understand their present and future. With love affairs, drama and troubling times, the people of Bly manor never seem to leave the property. The story after the rehearsal ties everything into place, from the first second of episode one to the last of episode nine.

It says it right in the title: Haunting. While I didn’t think this show is as scary as The Haunting of Hill House, it has its creepy twists and turns.

The source of eeriness is solely within the house. Much like the first series, the majority of scenes are dark, within an old, haunted-looking house.

It also has many connections that one may not grab onto after the first watch. The presence of these connections are seen only by watchers with good eyes.

The performance and production is “perfectly splendid.”

Every actor is good at holding their character, especially the children. 10-year-old Benjamin Evan Ainsworth played Miles, and Amelie Bea Smith, 9, played Flora. Ainsworth began acting at a young age, starring in Disney’s “Flora and Ulysses.” Smith began as a voice actor for “Peppa Pig.”

Some of their English accents seemed forced, but their ability to act as completely new characters is shocking.

To watchers who expected an add-on to The Hill House series, there are no longer family relations to one another. Originally, it frustrated me that there wasn’t a connection to The Hill House series. I really liked it and I wanted to watch more, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning a completely new story, despite the effort to recognize new characters.

The first few episodes are in their present time with Dani, experiencing strange things that only she understands. Following those episodes, it falls into an explanation of everything happening, with certain episodes focusing on sole characters. This is how the story makes sense, but I wished there were more connections throughout that led back to that present time.

While I have not read the books that these stories are based on, I’m fascinated by how James and Jackson maintained their ideas within their novels. I like the idea of multiple series based on different plots, as well. Most shows need to be watched in seasons chronologically, but these two were completely separate.

I definitely recommend watching The Haunting of Bly Manor, as well as The Haunting of Hill House. The last episodes when everything falls into place makes it worth the watch.