The Haunting of Bly Manor is the second show in the “Haunting” Netflix anthology series after The Haunting of Hill House. The Haunting of Bly Manor features adaptations from Henry James’ 1898 horror novella, The Turn of the Screw, which Carla Gugino not-so-subtly mentions in the first episode. The two shows feature a lot of the same cast members yet focus on two completely different storylines; but “The Haunting of Bly Manor” didn’t bore as much as its counterpart did.
Starring Victoria Pedretti as Dani Clayton, the plot revolves around her job as a full-time caretaker – or au pair if you please – of Flora Wingrave (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles Wingrave (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) at a manor in the countryside of London. Narrated by Gugino, who describes the story she’s about to tell as a “ghost story,” you’re led to expect any cliché ghost or horror story. But The Haunting of Bly Manor is anything but, possessing so many riveting, miniscule details throughout its episodes that it keeps you on your toes and thirsting for more.
Starting in London, Dani moves away from the United States because she’s running from her own ghosts, making you wonder up until halfway through the show, What or who is she escaping from? Her own internal struggles contribute to the enthralling storyline which presents itself just as soon as she meets the Wingrave children. There is a story untold about the occurrences at Bly Manor; and Dani finding herself at the center of it as she spirals into her own self-confusion and trepidation. She tries to decipher what her role is in the children’s lives as the other house attendants inform her of the passing of Rebecca Jessel (Tahira Sharif), who drowned in the manor’s lake and was the children’s last caretaker before Dani’s hiring. Bly Manor and all of its residents are experiencing their own supernatural encounters which explains the continuous oddities that showcase itself throughout each episode.
Just as Dani finds out about the passing of Ms. Jessel, we figure out that the manor is inundated with more ghosts of past occupants, some of which have their own background stories and purposes. Each of the ghosts play so much of a role in the plot development that we are thrown back in time to the 17th century, when Bly Manor was owned by Viola (Katie Siegel) and Perdita (Catherine Parker), so that we understand the depth of the story in which unfolds the ending of the show.
The ghost stories of Bly Manor aren’t the only thing that’s captivating, as Dani not only struggles with her own demons but finds herself enamored with the manor’s gardener, Jamie (Amelia Eve). Since a majority of the show is spent uncovering ghostly stories that inevitably lead to almost every character’s demise, a good love story is wholly justifiable. The relationship between Dani and Jamie is the right balance between bittersweet and enchanting as they strip each other’s demons away so that they can irrevocably and unforgivingly love one another.
All of the details of The Haunting of Bly Manor are so critical to the understanding of the circular plot that it prompts a second or even third round of rewatching. The intertwining of all of the individuals’ stories within the show mesmerizes you into yearning for more than what you’re given. The suspense and mystery behind each and every ghost story layer around the somber ending that ultimately makes you fall in love with it and all of its characters.
Art by Art Editor Adam Dee.