Not all ghost stories make you jump and keep you up at night. Some ghosts are just echoes of the past, trapped in moments and memories. But can a story about lost names and faces give me the same chills as a good jump-scare? The Haunting of Bly Manor sets out to do just that.
Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor takes audiences to the sprawling and remote Bly estate. Set deep within the English countryside, Bly is a quiet town a bit untouched by the world around. Bly Manor will greet you with a grand foyer, you’ll sleep in spacious bedrooms, walk the meticulous gardens, and find a friendly staff. But not everything at Bly is picturesque. Below its quiet country exterior, Bly holds a darkness—a kind of curse. Of course, you won’t notice the slightly oppressive air around the manor, at least not at first, no one does.
Enter Danielle, the young American hired to be an au pair to young Miles and Flora. Upon arriving at Bly Manor, Danielle is overcome by the beautiful country before her. She brushes off the slightly odd behavior of children as a combination of their imagination and the grief of losing their parents. And the others in the house—the gardener Jamie, cook Owen, and housekeeper Hannah—don’t seem concerned about the children’s behavior. But surely Danielle isn’t mad? There’s something not right at Bly Manor.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is a good old fashioned ghost story, not the kind that goes bump in the night—though there is some of that—but a heartbreaking tale of love and loss and possession. Possession, being the key, is at the heart of Bly Manor— representing the haunting and obsession within.
Fans, like myself, of The Haunting of Hill House will be surprised by the new series. The Haunting of Bly Manor takes a very different approach to horror. The series is told like a campfire ghost story, with a narrator taking the viewers through the events at Bly Manor. In doing so, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a much quieter ghost story, the kind that is more harrowing than horrific.
As each episode unfolds, we learn more about the tragedy that is Bly Manor—about the death, possession, and love that all reside within its grounds. Of course, that doesn’t mean the show is entirely ghostless. Lost souls walk the halls of Bly Manor at night—souls lost to time and memory. These faceless ghosts make me wonder, are we all lost to time?
But it’s not all bleak at Bly Manor—Danielle’s story is proof of that. Hers is the most compelling story in the series. A haunted woman from the start, Danielle is the quintessential gothic woman with a modern (80s) twist. There’s a tragic element to Danielle that cannot be ignored, but there’s also a bravery you might not expect. She’s haunted by her past, but not paralyzed by it. Maybe it’s the acid-washed jeans or the chunky gold hoops or her inability to brew a proper tea, but there’s a strength in Danielle’s character and a refusal to be beaten down—a reminder that we’re all a bit braver than we think.
So, does love conquer all in The Haunting of Bly Manor? Yes and no. What haunts Bly Manor requires more than a kiss by your true love to break its curse. Ultimately, the show reminds its viewers to live our truths each moment, to be present. That’s the real horror in Bly Manor—the past is alive.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is an exceptionally written series—a quiet, yet powerful story.