Reviews | Written by Sol Harris 12/10/2020

THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR

PLATFORM: NETFLIX | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Fans were overjoyed when The Haunting of Hill House was commissioned for a second season back in 2018. The notion of a classier American Horror Story was something everyone could get behind.

Enter Bly Manor: Season 2 of what is now being called The Haunting. One of the biggest perks of the season-long anthology format being employed is that each miniseries is an opportunity for those involved to branch out and experiment with new ideas. It’s surprising, then, that Bly Manor plays so closely to Hill House – not just superficially (they’re both ghost stories spanning multiple generations and set in mansions), but in its themes and subtexts, too (the show seemingly isn’t interested in big, horror set-pieces any more, but it’s every bit as interested in exploring our relationships with time as it ever has been).

Seemingly to try and make things feel fresh, the action takes place in 1980s England, which might have worked had it been a portrayal of England that wasn’t so clearly written by Americans and shot in Canada. Still, contrived ending and a lack of new ideas, aside, Bly Manor is a solid show when viewed completely divorced from Hill House. Rahul Kohli and T’Nia Miller are welcome additions to the cast, and while there are some grating child-performances in the mix, newcomer Benjamin Ainsworth is phenomenal.

The penultimate episode – a largely stand-alone adaptation of Henry James’ The Romance of Certain Old Clothes - is presented as a black & white period drama, in a throwback to the ‘golden age’ of the ghost story. It’s a delightfully chilling tale that truly understands the relationship between ghosts and sorrow, and it’s so good that it more than makes the entire season worthwhile.

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