Having a mother who is obsessed with horror films I have watched my fair share of the scariest movies you could think of–the list includes box office hits and underrated gems alike. And as I grew older, I realized that not only did I share a love of the terrifying unknown and inexplicable with my mother–we also shared a love for horror stories that were more than jump scares, possessions, and tales of revenge.
All of our favorite horror movies had one thing in common–they had a plot that made you question the world around you and they dived deep into exploring relationships between each character so that you, the audience, couldn’t help but be emotionally invested in them.
So it’s no surprise that when I watched The Haunting Of Bly Manor, I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the story.
It sounds like a bit of contradiction–how can horror be beautiful? But anyone familiar with Mike Flannagan’s works knows how masterfully he weaves emotion in his stories of terror.
I first discovered him through the movie Oculus, which is still hands down one of the best horror movies I have ever watched in my entire life. From there, I ended up watching several more of his masterpieces such as Hush, Before I Wake, Gerald’s Game, and of course The Netflix hit series, The Haunting of Hill House.
And just like all of his previous works mentioned above, The Haunting of Bly Manor also blew me away.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor: A Story Of Grief, Love & Recovery
The series follows the story of an American teacher named Dani Clayton in 1987, who has moved to Bly Manor in England to be the au pair of two wealthy orphaned children with a tragic past. Throughout the show, Dani, along with the viewers, try to unearth just what is haunting Bly Manor, and what do the children know of it?
While a lot of people did say that it didn’t quite have the fear element the way Hill House did, I personally loved how slow but creepy the entire show was. The series takes its time to build up the moment, flesh out every character and unveil the entire mystery one tragedy at a time. Throughout all nine episodes, the central theme and message are constant: how do we deal with death and move forward without the ghosts of our loved ones?
One of the things that really struck a chord with me while watching this show is the way it focuses on how, when we are unable to move past pain and hurt, when we are unable to let go, we begin to ‘fade away’, that is, we begin to forget our purpose, we begin to forget why we are here and eventually who we used to be.
In the show, this is shown quite literally, though in the most artistically beautiful way I could have imagined. A hint of this is given in the opening credits, where the viewer is introduced to all the characters, their faces in their portraits fading and bleaching away.
In fact, Flannagan’s approach to unveiling the mystery of Bly Manor had such a hauntingly beautiful quality to it, that I found myself wanting to binge-watch the whole show in one night. The pacing is exquisitely slow; Flannagan makes sure to give the audience to sink into the dark, eerie atmosphere of the show while still building up the intrigue and suspense.
The casting choices were spot on! Victoria Pedretti played the perfect sweet but haunted au pair with a secretive past; T’Nia Miller was equal parts grace and mysterious in her role as Hannah Grose, the groundskeeper who never eats, sleeps and often loses track of time. And the child actors absolutely stole the show–Amelie Bea Smith played the adorable yet clearly traumatized Flora, who was perfectly splendid in every episode, while Benjamin Evans Ainsworth shone in the role of Miles Wingrave, a disturbing and creepy boy for whom you couldn’t help but occasionally feel sorry for.
Overall, The Haunting Of Bly Manor was something different when compared to Flannagan’s more fast-paced works like Oculus or The Haunting Of Hill House, but it still had his signature, artistic storytelling, and intensely emotional themes of loss, grief, love, and recovery. If you are looking for a horror show that will have you screaming every five seconds, or maybe losing sleep for nights on end, this is not it. However, if you are looking for a horror tv series that will have you hooked, thoroughly creeped out, and pondering on the permanence of death and loss, I strongly recommend The Haunting Of Bly Manor.