The Haunting Of Bly Manor Review: Afterlife is always a mysterious debate. And same is the scenario with ghosts and souls. This one is a whole different take of unfortunate deaths and acceptance. Acceptance that may take an emotional turn or a revengeful one. But mind you, this one exactly isn’t a ‘horror’ story.
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Amelia Eve, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
Creator: Mike Flanagan
Available On: Netflix
The Haunting Of Bly Manor: What Is It About?
Henry Thomas (Henry Wingrave) lives in London and is looking for an ‘au pair’ (a house help) for his niece and nephew in Bly. It’s where the family country house is located and the kids arrive every summer from boarding school. Despite several attempts and numerous interviews, Henry ends up hiring Victoria Pedretti (Danielle “Dani” Clayton). She knows that everything is not as simple and there is a ‘catch’ because of which women do not agree to work as a house help in Bly. She learns about the ‘imagination’ (the house being haunted) but she herself is a mess. So, Dani decides to take up the job anyway.
With the imagination turning into a truth, the house gradually witnesses paranormal activities. Like every haunting house, will the characters end up as prey to the ghosts? Or will things take a different turn this time? Hint: It isn’t even near to best of your prediction/ expectation. And no, it isn’t anywhere near to Haunting Of The Hill House.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor: What’s Good?
It was a really good decision to bring back some of the old cast members. Victoria Pedretti as Dani was one step ahead of what she portrayed in Haunting Of The Hill House. She was raw, she was relatable and she was vulnerable. She literally brings every frame to life. But also, I wished to see her in a different or happier frame, something that the makers did with Oliver Jackson-Cohen. Another grey character for Oliver and he does more than just doing justice to Peter.
Kate Siegel may not be the leading character, but her limited space will keep you hooked. Every inch of her portrayal – from the vengeance, anger to the breakdown – it would be safe to say that she could shoulder the entire show by herself. If you loved her as Theo in HOTH, this one will leave you in awe of her. Henry Thomas too gave his best and there couldn’t be a better portrayal possible for Mr. Wingrave.
Amelia Bea Smith is so little, but oh boy! She’s one of the most mature child artists that I have ever seen in my life. There was a perfect balance of her portrayal as Flora and she did way more than what is expected of an artist of her age. Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Miles would make you hate him, love him and empathize him – another stellar performance exceeding expectation from a boy of his age. Amelia Eve is a star and she lit up the series with her kickass portrayal. She was fun to watch and gave a light-hearted touch that a series with this depth needed. If you’ve seen Haunting Of The Hill House, she’ll remind you of Theo multiple times.
Rest of the characters including T’Nia Miller, Tahirah Sharif and others did their best. All in all, no complaints whatsoever from the cast members, not even a bit.
The background music, the videography as well as the locations were bang-on. But… (skip to the next section, a whole rant incoming)
The Haunting Of Bly Manor: What Doesn’t Work?
The mess, and I mean it. To begin with, I was shocked to learn that Mike Flanagan directed this one. He helmed Haunting Of The Hill House and the expectations were sky-high. Being blunt, I can literally name the episodes worth watching, because there are barely 3-4. Last season, I didn’t even realize when I binge-watched the series having average timing of an episode around 50 minutes.
This time, the episodes felt lengthy AF and it gets tiresome and frustrating after a point. The initial 3 episodes are a build-up and all is well till that point. The next episode, however, will make you feel like you’re losing track of the entire theme. What is the theme/ subject at the first point? I wasn’t sure until the 5th episode.
In fact, the 5th episode was THE whole mess. It was the most uncomfortable, non-soothing episode. I had zero clarity about what was happening until the last 15 minutes. Even if the show picks up its momentum around the 6th episode, a normal viewer would usually reach his saturation by this point.
The last 3 episodes were worth every moment. But the entire point of a show being ‘horror’ was missing. For a person like me who gets goosebumps thinking about ghosts, I had a sound sleep at night. The series is expected to be psychological, but this one, I don’t even know what it was tbh. But it wasn’t either of the above.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor failed miserably at the scripting level. The last episode did leave me teary-eyed and made me urge for more, but it seemed more like ‘damage control.’ There even comes a point where the makers themselves accept that their show isn’t really a ‘ghost/ horror story.’ Yes, you read it right.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor: Last Word!
All said and done, this one remained a big no-no for me. One could simply watch the initial episodes to know the characters better and skip to the thrill in the concluding episodes. I was quite upset with how Haunting Of The Hill House ended. In contrary, this one made so much more sense. But the same sense is missing all in all.