Review: The Haunting Of Bly Manor
Megan Ballantyne reviews Netflix original The Haunting Of Bly Manor.
The Haunting of Bly Manor was created by Mike Flanagan, also the creator of The Haunting of Hill House, a hugely well-acclaimed horror series. This rendition does not necessarily live up to that impressive legacy, or to the expectations of shocking jump scares and building terror, but for those who are not avid horror fans, or those horror fans able to appreciate a more atmospheric viewing experience closer to that of a drama, this is an enjoyable watch.
The story centres around Dani Clayton and her experience looking after two children at an old manor in 1987, loosely based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw. She goes to work at Bly Manor as an au pair for Henry Wingrave following a highly suspicious interview experience, where she learns that the previous au pair for his niece and nephew died on the grounds of the manor and that this has prevented another person willing to take up the job. But Dani makes clear she is comfortable with confronting loss, one of the key themes which the show tackles subtly and effectively. She also is apparently used to, if not comfortable with, the supernatural being a part of her life as well; when she looks in the mirror before leaving for her new job, we see for the first time the mysterious figure with lit-up eyes who is a recurrent presence throughout the series.
Therefore, Dani is the perfect lead for a horror series, in that she is less fazed by supernatural experiences and mysterious deaths than the average viewer would find advisable; whether it is disobeying instructions and exploring the forbidden wing of the old house on her first night, wandering the grounds alone, or pursuing elusive figures, she is rarely seen to recoil from her fears throughout the series.
The show is overall well-paced, and hints are laid early for the revelations in the excellent last few episodes. The different timelines were sometimes confusing to follow as a viewer, and the accents questionable, but overall this is a show which effectively captures the sense of the Gothic in its source material, in its mixture of romance and suspense, and which engages the viewer on an emotional and dramatic level.