TV Review: The Haunting of Bly Manor 👻

The Haunting of Bly Manor is a perfectly splendid gothic romance story.

THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR (L to R) VICTORIA PEDRETTI as DANI in THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR Cr. EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX © 2020

Victoria Pedretti stars as Dani Clayton in The Haunting of Bly Manor. CREDIT: Netflix

This post for The Haunting of Bly Manor is spoiler-free.

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020, created by Mike Flanagan) is the second season of the anthological Haunting franchise by Netflix. Bly Manor is set in the late 80s and follows a rich family, their staff, and their lives in the countryside of Bly Manor.

Although not as scary as its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor is packed full of gothic romance and beautiful scenes. Its cast features the same actors—in guest and main roles—from Hill House and stars Victoria Pedretti in the lead role, Dani Clayton, a young American who is the new au pair to a rich family.

With characters such as housekeeper Hannah (T’Nia Miller), chef Owen (Rahul Kohli), and gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve) added into the mix, Bly Manor has a pool of talent that help carry this season brilliantly. The endings for their characters, however, are not in the least bit brilliant. In fact, it’s kind of depressing. It’s hard not to feel sad while watching the finale episode, which I will not spoil, but let’s just say that Pedretti’s performance is well deserving of an Emmy award, though I think this franchise is too underrated to generate any awards chatter.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who was a standout in Hill House, also returns in Bly Manor as a valet and assistant to Uncle Henry (Henry Thomas), who is the guardian of two orphaned kids Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). Jackson-Cohen’s performance reminded me of his character in The Invisible Man, except with a thicker Scottish accent that can be quite irritating at times, at least to me. 

Even though some critics have commented about how Bly Manor is particularly slow and drawn-out in the middle, I simply do not agree as I found the entire season to have a cohesive storytelling with each episode focusing on one character’s story. However, what the show could have done better was to set up certain character storylines much earlier in the season, as some stories were left with too little screen time to be fully fleshed out. One has to wonder if Bly Manor were to be solely written and directed by Flanagan—would it have been comparable to the critically-acclaimed Hill House? 🤔

While a Season 3 has not been greenlit, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix does not renew this franchise as the streaming giant has been axing old and new series in the past few months—but I do think that Haunting has the potential to continue on for more seasons and be as successful as Ryan Murphy’s anthological franchise, American Horror Story.

Rating: 4/5

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