By Jess Johnson
Dead doesn’t always mean gone.
The haunting of someone’s “dead” past can become a prevalent revolving door when it continuously manifests and cultivates inside the mind. It begins to fester and squirm it’s way into reliving that trauma, through our daily lives, our thoughts, our actions — even our souls.
Netflix’s “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” explores the haunting of one’s mind and how it chases us through life, as we’re unable to outrun these thoughts. This second show, based on Henry James’s 1898 novella, “The Turn of the Screw,” is a part of the horror anthology series branching off of “The Haunting of Hill House.”
The new mind-boggling show aired Oct. 9, highly-anticipated by fans of the THHH’s returning actors such as Victoria Pedretti, who played Nell Crain in THHH, Henry Thomas, who played the young Hugh Crain, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen who played Luke Crain. In this gothic romance, Pedretti now plays as Dani, an au pair that works in Bly Manor and looks after orphaned siblings Miles, played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, and Flora, played by Amelie Bea Smith. The plot of the series surrounds their uncle, Henry Wingrave, who hires Dani as a nanny to reside at Bly Manor with the estate’s chef Owen, played by Rahul Kohli, groundskeeper Jamie, played by Amelia Eve, and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, played by T’Nia Miller. But all is not as it seems at the manor, as each episode reveals an unexpected turn, and Flora and Miles deal with the trauma of the mysterious loss of their parents who died while on a trip in India.
“If you’re gonna watch it, watch it all the way through,” SUNY Plattsburgh junior History and Adolescent education major Parker Gill said. “Don’t take each episode for what it is but think of each episode as a part of the whole show. Definitely keep an eye out for all your characters, because you may not know who’s dead or who’s alive.”
Gill interpreted the show to be more about trauma, rather than its predecessor Hill House’s more traditional horror that included supernatural ghosts and a “typical haunted house.”
Honestly, this show overlooks centuries of dark secrets of love and loss that are waiting to be unearthed, and when they are — the plot goes haywire and throws the viewer into another unexpected turn. Each episode is like a puzzle piece that the viewer must put together to make sense of the plot, which doesn’t fully make sense until the end. Even then, the viewer still can find themselves asking questions.
“I found a lot more stylistic connections, rather than actual plot connections,” Gill said. “One of my favorite things about both shows is throughout the episodes, there would just be hidden ghosts throughout the scenes. I found myself more so looking for these hidden easter eggs, rather than paying attention to the show itself.”
The show is hauntingly beautiful, as the coloration of each episode matches the overall tone of the old story that episode is portraying. Bly Manor’s interior is captivating, and the character’s relationships draw the reader in even more than the story of the Bent Neck Lady in The Haunting of Hill House.
However, critics might say the lead up to the big plot twist in the last episode wasn’t completely worth it, as the lead up to uncover the truth of Bly Manor is painfully, awfully slow.
“I was disappointed with Bly Manor because I found it to be a lot more artistic — and ya know, to each their own,” Gill said. “But if it’s supposed to be a scary story, I wanna be scared, and I just didn’t find myself being scared that much. I’d definitely up the horror. It was a bit too in depth with the mind — I had to think a lot harder than I did with the first show.”
The Haunting of Bly Manor shifts its focus more on making the viewer think of how spirits are suddenly able to control characters bodies, why the house makes the character’s trauma more severe by forcing them to recollect, and why it seems the lost souls stuck at Bly Manor are stuck in a eternal loop of despair.
Similarly, The Haunting of Hill House tells a tragic tale of siblings dealing with the trauma of losing their mother at a young age, and as they get older — losing themselves. The difference in this show is that even after death, their souls are still lost as they try to find their way out of Bly Manor. And along the way, the characters drag the living down with them.
While the characters ran away from their trauma, they end up running straight into a dead end.
If anyone is planning on watching this show, it is both a time and mental commitment to uncovering the true happenings at Bly Manor and in the young lives of the characters as they run away from themselves and into death. There are no happy endings, so grab a tissue box. As Gill states,
“Not everything is always as it seems in the first place.”