REVIEW: ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ terrifies viewers while exploring love, loss


Courtesy Netflix

Staff Writer Annemargaret Furgal praises the acting and cinematography of ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’, a gothic romance with drama, love and horror.

Annemargaret Furgal, Staff Writer

Are you looking for a good scare? Or even a good cry? Then “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is the show for you. Its unique combination of love and horror makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking story.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor,” directed by Mike Flanagan and based on the book “The Turning Of The Screw” by Henry James, follows a young American girl named Dani Clayton (played by the talented Victoria Pedretti) who accepts the position as an au pair at the Bly Manor estate in rural England. After the previous nanny’s mysterious suicide, Dani assumes care of two children, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and her older brother Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), who was expelled from his boarding school for his violent behavior. 

Dani forms a friendship with the manor’s staff, becoming close with the housekeeper Hanna Grose (T’Nia Miller), the cook Owen Sharma (Rahul Kohli) and the gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve). When faces begin to appear in windows around the house and fear rises amongst the echoing halls of the manor, it leaves Dani wondering whether or not she is going insane or living with ghosts. 

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is a one-season, nine-episode series (streaming on Netflix)  that plays with different character perspectives and employs time jumps to fully explore the plot. The episodes that provide different perspectives from the characters allows for a more in-depth look at their personality and worldview. 

The acting in this show is phenomenal. Each actor portrays the intense scenes and emotions their characters are going through very well. Even the youngest amongst the cast, particularly the actress Amelia Bea Smith, did an excellent job.

The cinematography is well done and at times impressive, employing unique scene transitions and Flanagan’s signature dark and moody landscapes, which are seen in some of his more recent movies like “Dr. Sleep” and “Hush.” 

Flanagan has mastered finding the balance between drama and horror, leaving the audience feeling unsettled, while still maintaining the focus on the characters and not the actual haunting itself. 

The horror in this show is a slow burn building up over the course of the series as it gets more and more dangerous for the characters involved. It manages to be terrifying without using cheap jumpscares but instead confronts the viewer with the existential. The real horror in this show comes from the themes of grief and loss and how trauma manifests differently in each character.

Not only is the horror well done, but when contrasted with the romantic plot it makes the love shown all the more poignant. Exploring themes of love and loss, Flanagan creates a modern gothic romance that is both beautiful and painful, making it not a ghost story, but a love story. 

This show is the perfect binge-watch and instant horror classic. Whether you’re a horror fan or enjoy drama and romance, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” has something to offer everyone.