The Haunting of Bly Manor is the second instalment of The Haunting anthology series, following the successful The Haunting of Hill House. The mini-series is loosely based on the novel The Turn of the Screw, and features much of the same creative team and cast members from Hill House. Though the look and feel of the show very much echoes its predecessor, the storyline and characters are in no way connected.
Bly Manor takes audiences on a chilling journey in a picturesque location of what’s meant to be the English countryside (though filming actually took place in Vancouver, Canada). It’s a story full of ghosts, secrets, memories, trauma, guilt and grief, but most interestingly, it’s a romance story first. In the show, we meet a young American nanny who takes on the job of an au pair to two young, orphaned, children. The nanny moves to the Bly country estate and resides with the chef, groundskeeper and housekeeper, but she soon learns of the previous au pair’s tragic death and begins to see the apparitions which haunt the premises.
Fans of Hill House will be delighted to see some familiar faces. We welcome back the key cast members as they take on their new characters:
- Victoria Pedretti (You) stars as Dani Clayton, the young and newly employed au pair. With hidden troubles of her own, she leaves America to start afresh in England at the Bly Manor.
- Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Invisible Man) plays Peter Quint, the right hand man to Henry, the uncle. Quint comes from an unstable family and this is the driving force behind many of his actions at the manor.
- Carla Gugino (Gerald’s Game) is the storyteller/narrator throughout the episodes. Listen out for the northern English accent!
- Henry Thomas (Doctor Sleep) takes on the role of Henry Wingrave, the uncle to the two orphaned children, also battling his own problems.
- Kate Siegel (Gerald’s Game) makes an appearance as Viola Willoughby, the antagonist to the story, but one with a heart-breaking backstory.
Bly Manor also offers up some fresh faces and new talents:
- Amelia Eve (Enterprice) stars as Jamie, a quick-witted and fiery groundskeeper who develops a strong relationship that’s central to the story.
- T’Nia Miller (Years and Years) plays the respectable housekeeper, Hannah Grose. She glides through the house, offering a strong presence and endearing performance.
- Rahul Kohli (iZombie) is the charming chef who adds a light-hearted feel to what is quite a gloomy series.
- Tahirah Sharif (A Christmas Prince) plays the late au pair, Rebecca Jessel.
- Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth star as the two young orphans, Flora and Miles, in their first major television roles.
This series isn’t as terrifying as its predecessor, but it offers enough eerie moments and a strong emotionally-charged storyline to keep you invested.
Much like Hill House, hidden ghosts plague many scenes but the average viewer may be completely blind to them – until a repeat viewing perhaps! When it comes to the plotline, Bly Manor delivers a striking tale of ghosts and love stories, and it’s told through captivating performances from all cast members. It’s intelligently crafted and oddly heart-warming, but still with enough unnerving moments and jaw-dropping reveals to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Visually, it hits the nail on the head with its gloomy and cold aesthetics, drawing up misty dark nights and casting the estate in shadows and hidden corners. Bly Manor looks and feels much like a horror, but the best part of it is how the true horror lies in the devastation brought on by its characters.
All in all, it’s perfectly splendid… Just don’t ask us if we cried over the finale, okay?!