Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Sh-Ron Almeida Anchor Staff
In 1987, a young bright-eyed American woman becomes a full-time governess for a man’s niece and nephew, both living in the family country house in London. Soon after arriving at the Bly estate and meeting its staff, the woman encounters strange happenings. And whether she knows it or not, a dark history lurks within the walls of Bly Manor.
For fans of the Haunting of Hill House, they will be sorely disappointed. This is not a sequel or any sort of continuation of the previous one. This tells a different story with different characters but features a few of the same actors who were in Hill House. The pacing is also slower this time, with things starting to heat up at around episode 5. Also, the marketing for this series was rather misleading, almost tricking you to think it’s going to be dedicated to the horror genre. Consequently, it’s understandable for any viewer to be bummed out at not being promised what they were given. But there are still elements of creepiness in the show, especially when you get to know the characters more throughout this nine-episode journey.
Danielle Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) is an interesting and compelling main character. I felt like she was a bit jittery from the beginning, then again, once you delve into her tragic backstory and the reasons for her behavior, you’ll understand soon enough. Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller) also held the show together with her plight and pent-up emotional struggle.
Although it takes a while to realize, it becomes apparent that the Haunting of Bly Manor is a gothic romance. The series goes out of its way to focus on different forms of romance, like unrequited love, forbidden love, and even poisonous, self-destructive love, and how far people are willing to go to obtain it. There are a few parts where I was rather confused and almost bored with what I was watching, due to high expectations of it being on par with Hill House. After all, the deceptive advertising was the source of the hype. Even as the action starts to pick up more steadily, it ends just as swiftly as it began, leaving the finale to be quite anti-climactic. However, my patience paid off by the finale, which left me shocked and devastated by the time the credits finally rolled.
Although it’s not a masterpiece, Bly Manor still has a lot to offer. The cinematography is great, the characters are interesting, and the narrative is intriguing. If you stick around long enough, you will find the pay off in watching a touching and ultimately heart-wrenching love story unfold. With that said, it’s a moderate recommendation worth seeing, especially for October.
The Haunting of Bly Manor can be viewed on Netflix now.