Although, Bly Manor isn’t as sharp as its predecessor and sometimes it becomes so odd that it appears a bit less authentic. But, still, Mike Flanagan is a master at weaving characters that keep you glued till the end.
This is a spoiler-free review and only contains the details of the plot covered in the first episode.
The second installment by Mike Flanagan called The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix, shifted its center of attraction from the metaphor of grief to guilt which is mostly expressed in a raw manner. It isn’t as neat as the previous series( The Haunting of Hill House) but it has its own virtues. The series is based on the works of Henry James.
Uneasiness takes its place in the atmosphere very quickly. It’s set in 1987. Dani Clayton (Pedretti) is searching for a new job in London. She is a warm, kind, confident young woman and all she wants is to help others. But, there’s another side to her story, she is haunted by an entity. She gets a job of being an au pair of two orphaned children in a town called Bly. Her employer Henry is normal when he drinks at a bar and awkward when he drinks alcohol with tea in his office. Somehow, she convinces Henry to hire her because she believes she can change the life of the two kids and also help him in removing all the dirt associated with the manor. The two kids- Miles (Benjamin Ainsworth) who talk with a maturity that doesn’t match his age. And Flora (Amelie Smith) at first, is just finding instances to repeat the quote “ perfectly splendid” again and again. It’s all very strange and the show starts dropping hints of something being terribly wrong with the house pretty quickly.
The story is being narrated over drinks after certain rehearsal dinner. The estate as Dani says, it’s just gorgeous, there is no other word for it. But, despite the bright beauty of the estate, it is evident that something is wrong. Dani constantly sees glimpses of a strange man. Also, Flora creates delicate, hand-knitted talismans just for the pleasure of imagination, or is it just her fear that’s instructing her to behave in such a manner? The restricted wing of the manor is calling for attention. But are the secrets worth exploring?
Although, Bly Manor isn’t as sharp as its predecessor and sometimes it becomes so odd that it appears a bit less authentic. But, still, Mike Flanagan is a master at weaving characters that keep you glued till the end. The first five episodes establish their agenda quickly and are very well-paced. The mood and tone are very well-crafted. The horror element with the right amount of emotional quotient folds out in a “perfectly splendid” manner and the performances are just spectacular in every way. But, it is unable to set up an effect like that of the Crain family. Also, the scares provided by the memorable Bent-Neck Lady remain unbeaten.
The uncanny visuals and the tension is very well built. But, the tension seems to resolve quickly in this adaptation as compared to the predecessor. The ghosts mostly have irregularly shaped faces with no eyes, the one that sticks with Dani everywhere is very intriguing because you keep on guessing throughout the show that it resembles a sort of grief and guilt that Dani is hiding. Much like Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor too uses uneasiness as a tool for scaring rather than completely relying on jump-scares.
The strongest point of the series is the performances. Pedretti as Dani is like a perfect choice,I couldn’t have imagined someone else carrying the right amounts of brightness and enigma so gracefully that her character needs. Even the two kids, played by Benjamin and Amelie swiftly transition between sweet and super creepy in a very spectacular way. T’Nia Miller carries her enigmatic personality amazingly. Rahul Kohli as Owen shines whenever he gets space in the show.
Overall, The Haunting of Bly Manor isn’t as scary and powerful as its predecessor but it still has its own set of qualities which are worth your time.
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Amelie Bea Smith, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Henry Thomas.
Creator: Mike Flanagan.
Verdict: Definitely watch this one.