“Bly Manor” is the weird cousin of “Hill House”

Art+by+Emma+Inge

Art by Emma Inge

Emma Olson, Opinions Editor

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

After enjoying Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, I eagerly awaited the release of its follow-up series, The Haunting of Bly Manor. It did not disappoint. 

This series, completely separate from Hill House despite using a few of the same actors, followed American Dani Clayton in her new job as an au pair in the English countryside. Caring for two wealthy children in old Bly Manor seems like the perfect gig for her. However, she’s haunted by the ghosts of her past as well as the literal ghosts in the estate.

Watching the show for the first time was an admittedly confusing experience. Scenes happen in strange order without explanation; characters behave in odd ways. Flashbacks initially seem to explain things, but then only make the story more confusing. In fact, nothing really ties together until the last couple of episodes. You have to really pay attention in order to understand Bly Manor.

Despite this, the show does a good job of being scary. From moving dolls to shadowy figures, there’s a plethora of paranormal activity in the background of many scenes. I found myself rewinding the show multiple times to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. The way everything is set up makes you feel like you’re really there, confused yet terrified in Bly Manor.

A common criticism of Bly Manor is that it’s significantly less scary than The Haunting of Hill House. I beg to differ. The Haunting of Hill House was scary, don’t get me wrong, but it dealt with horror in a more traditional, scary-movie-like way. The main horror component in Bly Manor was how it simulated a state of constant uncertainty.

One of the more endearing parts of Bly Manor was that along with being a horror series, it had a great love story. Oftentimes, romance in scary shows or movies can feel like a forced side plot, but in this case, it strengthened the story. I won’t spoil anything here, but the romance tied in perfectly at the end of the show and allowed for a heart wrenching finale.

The addition of a love story made Bly Manor more interesting than the depressing Hill House. Sure, the show terrified me to the point of checking my closet before bed, but at least it didn’t put me in an emotional slump like its predecessor did. It was a nice reminder that even in a universe where death is not the end of your time on Earth, love can overcome the worst of obstacles.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is definitely worth a watch. It can be difficult to get into at first, but it’s worth it. You’ll soon find yourself attached to the characters and captivated by the misfortune that falls upon them. Just don’t go in expecting a carbon copy of The Haunting of Hill House—the two are different in the best way.