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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Haunting of Bly Manor: Horror’s Newest Anthology

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The Haunting of Bly Manor is Netlix’s latest horror anthology.

Following in the footsteps of American Horror Story and Black Mirror, Netflix released a second season of The Haunting anthology. The series began in 2018 with The Haunting of Hill House, adapted from a Shirley Jackson novella 

The recent follow up, The Haunting of Bly Manor, is largely based on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw but draws from other James stories as well. Set in the 1980s, the show follows Dani Clayton, a young woman from California who has recently moved to England, as she begins her job as a nanny for two children at the Bly estate. Soon after meeting the children, Flora and Miles, strange and ghostly occurrences begin to take place 

As far as horror goes, The Haunting of Bly is not exactly terrifying. There are a few jump scares, but the show is better described as chilling and intense. The horror of Bly Manor lies within the storyline, not the visuals. 

The show focuses on creating an intricate storyline that delves into the history of Bly Manor and the lives of those within it.  Depending on your point of view, the show is either a complex exploration of love, fear, and letting go, or a failed, longwinded attempt to escape from the shadow of Hill House. 

At times the storyline is hard to follow , making it nearly impossible to mindlessly watch the show. Viewers must keep a watchful eye, as sly figures in the background and small details help to uncover the secrets of Bly Manor. However, if secrets are what you are searching for, Bly Manor may not be the show for you. By the end of the season, all characters’ origin stories are explained, the ghosts are uncovered, and the curse of Bly Manor is resolved. Bly Manor does not leave many loose ends.  

“I thought it was really confusing,” said Sharon Xu (‘22). “I didn’t really understand it until the end. I watched it twice with my sister in the last two weeks because we didn’t get anything.” 

Overall, the acting in the show is well done. At times it feels like a soap opera, with dramatic tears and expressions of fear, but the more subtle, emotionally developed scenes make up for this. It is easy to feel empathy for the characters. The actors do a wonderful job of conveying the disorientation of the characters, as well as displaying the complicated relationships that the residents of Bly Manor have with each other and their pasts.  

A challenge that many anthologies face is distinguishing the actors from season to season. Though she may have been Nell Crain before, Victoria Pedretti is now Dani Clayton. With much of the cast being new to the show, the characters in Bly Manor are very different from those in Hill House, which eases the transition between characters.  

Adding to the complexity of the show, many episodes feature prominent flashbacks. Flanagan uses these to reveal characters’ backstories, as well as to explain the origins of Bly’s ghosts. At first, it is difficult to understand which scenes are meant to be in the past and which are meant to be in the present. Once you get a handle on who each character is, it becomes significantly easier to distinguish between time periods. 

The ambience of Bly Manor is much brighter than that of Hill House. Hill House uses a dark color palette, with deep blues and greys, while Bly Manor is much more colorful. The manor itself is very creepy, with long hallways, dark wooden floors, and an imposing façade. The set of the show feels very Gothic in style, but loses some of its impact with the lighter color palette and a lack of shadows 

Though there are critics, the show is received quite positively. IMDb gave the show 7.5 stars, a positive review, even though it is lower than the 8.7 given to The Haunting of Hill House. On Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of critics enjoyed the show, compared to only 62% of audience members.  

Though it has its flaws, Bly Manor is a thrilling show with a talented cast and fans of The Haunting of Hill House should be sure to watch it. 

The show is rated TV-MA on Netflix and is recommended for ages 13+ on Common Sense Media.  

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About the Contributor
Paige Woodard
Paige Woodard, Editor of Culture & Lifestyle
Paige Woodard (‘21), a Claremont native, takes on the exciting role of Editor of Culture and Lifestyle as a first-year journalist. Paige’s own lifestyle is defined by her enthusiasm for knitting, braiding, and gardening. Besides filling her room with an excessive amount of house plants including three different types of snake plants, Paige also grows her own vegetables in the backyard! She admires mola-mola, the largest boney fish in the world, whose lifestyle consists solely of floating around the ocean. As a plant and animal lover, there is no surprise that among the most important issues for Paige are environmental justice and climate change. As someone with a unique lifestyle of her ownPaige is excited to expand the horizons of the Culture and Lifestyle section this year. Overall, as a journalist, she hopes to connect the Webb community amidst the pandemic.  

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