If there’s anything that 2020 has taught the world so far, it’s that real life can often be more frightening than any old ghost or monster lurking around the corner. And Mike Flanagan, the mastermind behind Netflix’s latest hit The Haunting of Bly Manor, has used this terrifying realization to his extreme advantage.
After 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House, this series serves as the second entry in Flanagan’s The Haunting anthology series. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” delivers just as many extremely well-done scares and spine-chilling narratives as its Hill House set predecessor. But, just as much as The Haunting of Hill House was more so about family than it was about the ghosts, The Haunting of Bly Manor is more so a love story than one centering around horror.
Let’s not completely ignore the horror, though. Flanagan, through these two series, has officially proven himself to be a master of horror, in traditional aspects and not. There are no cheap scares or poorly construed spirits. Everything feels well thought-out and intricately planned with care, which makes the scares all the more fulfilling. On top of that, Flanagan has redefined what a horror story can be so much to the point that he’ll hook you in and entrance you with the storytelling only to knock you off your feet with an unexpected twist or fright.
The genius of both The Haunting of Hill House and now The Haunting of Bly Manor is the injected reality within the horror. Truly good horror isn’t just about the jump scares or gore; it’s also about the story behind it all, the thing that can first grasp onto someone watching in order to get them to care. These series, perhaps more than anything that has come before them, completely understand that.
The Haunting of Hill House was powerful because of its achingly real family drama. The Haunting of Bly Manor, has somehow even taken it a step further. In comparison, there’s a significant drop off in the amount of traditionally scary things showcased in this series. Yet, the show feels even more real, even more heartbreaking and eventually even more terrifying than its predecessor. It evokes this incredibly powerful concoction of varying emotions because of the love stories it showcases.
From a charming look at various budding romances to heart-wrenching depictions of loss and betrayal, The Haunting of Bly Manor isn’t just scary because of the ghosts that are still very much a part of the show - believe me, the lady in the lake will keep you up at night. It’s terrifying because of the reality it depicts in its plot and characters.
The writing, the directing, the acting, everything on screen and the work done off is impeccable. Not to mention, it’s great to see some of the alum from The Haunting of Hill House return in new and exciting roles. And though it’s loosely based on Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw, so much credit must be given to Mike Flanagan for how it’s adapted and made into something fresh and compelling.
The beginning of The Haunting of Bly Manor will have you scared and on the edge of your seat, but by the end, it’ll have those feelings intermixed with laughter and crying and absolutely everything in between. It’s a must-watch of an emotional roller coaster, through and through, and brings the horror genre to new heights. I can only hope Netflix picks this anthology series back up for another go in a couple of years.
So make some time to check it out; it’s the perfect time to indulge in a horror series anyway as we near the midpoint of October. And I promise it contains so much more than just a few restless spirits.
Oh, and as was the case with The Haunting of Hill House, be sure to keep a watchful eye out for the hidden ghosts scattered throughout the episodes. They’re sure to interrupt your tears with a quick and fun little spook.
Jackson Horvat is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.