“The Haunting of Bly Manor”: It’s a Love Story

Bly+Manor

Netflix

Bly Manor

Eleanor Boyle, Managing Arts & Leisure Editor

Though Halloween may be over and winter is on its way, the spooky “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is still worth watching. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” follows the successful show of “The Haunting of Hill House,” indicating a possible anthology series.

The Haunting of Bly Manor” is based on Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” a novella that is highly regarded as one of the best representations of gothic literature and the horror genre. However, “The Turning of the Screw” takes place in the late 1800s, while “The Haunting of Bly Manor” takes place in the late 1980s. Both stories follow an au pair, or modern-day governess, who seeks a job in watching after two children whose last au pair apparently died by suicide

The story begins with an older unnamed woman – played by actress Carla Gugino from “The Haunting of Hill House” – telling wedding guests about a ghost story that “isn’t hers, but someone else’s.” The central character of Bly Manor is Danielle “Dani” Clayton, played by actress Victoria Pedretti. Dani has recently emigrated from America to London in search of a new life after the end of an engagement.

It is immediately obvious that Dani is experiencing a haunting atmosphere as a shadow man seems to follow her, but only in mirrors. She meets the alcoholic uncle Henry Wingrave, who ultimately employs her as an au pair for his niece and nephew. 

After arriving at Bly Manor, Dani meets the children: Flora and Miles, played by Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, respectively. The two children have an extensive vocabulary for children of a young age, and Miles flirts with Dani despite being only 10 years old. 

The main mystery of the show is who haunts the halls of Bly Manor at night. Flora warns Dani the first night she arrives that she must not go outside of her room at night. After this encounter, Dani steps on one of Flora’s dolls that is similar to that of the ghost. It turns out that Flora has several of these dolls, which leads the audience to wonder how many ghosts are actually inside this house.

What “Bly Manor” does well is create a blanket of confusion that wraps the show tightly. For example, Gross is seemingly always confused, not really understanding where she is in the house. She also rarely eats and the reason for that comes at a shocking and disturbing but also saddening conclusion. 

Through all the creepiness and shuddering that this show provides, my favorite scenes happened between Jamie and Dani. Jamie and Dani have a flirtatious relationship throughout the show causing them to be a “will they or won’t they” couple. I enjoyed this addition to the story because it gives the audience something to hope for. Perhaps this show isn’t so doom and gloom?

There are plenty of jump scares throughout the show, as well as some surprising twists and some happy scenes that help relax the audience before another ghost appears. Just like in “Hill House,” one can almost always see a ghost in a frame, but unlike in “Hill House,” the ghosts in Bly Manor play an integral part in the story. 

But, just like every ghost or love story, it is best not to ruin the ending of things. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself in order to find out what happens to Hannah, why Dani left America in the first place, who these mysterious ghosts that haunt the halls are, and who the narrator is. Be warned though – you may end up crying from a bittersweet ending rather than crying from fear. “Haunting of Bly Manor” is currently streamable on Netflix.