At the end of “The Haunting of Bly Manor”, one character told the narrator “I liked your story, but I think you set it up wrong. You said it was a ghost story. It isn’t… It’s a love story.”

Exactly, this Netflix horror series may not be the horror series you expected. It’s impossible not to compare Mike Flanagan’s (“Gerald’s Game” and “Doctor Sleep”) new created series with its predecessor “The Haunting of Hill House”.

And it’s easy to see why. Both series consistently jump through times and spaces, and package a deeper tragic drama under its ghostly horror surface. Mixing emotion with terror, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” explores human relationships this time. Why we are suffered and hurt by someone? How these wounds can be healed? Told by ghosts and those who live but not alive, it’s a ghost story that will fright you while break your heart at the same time.

The title “Bly Manor” comes from Henry James’ legendary horror novel “The Turn of the Screw”, which has been adapted into films plenty of times throughout the decades including the 1961 masterpiece “The Innocents” and earlier this year “The Turning”. But Flanagan’s series not only is inspired by “The Turn of the Screw” but also ambitiously adds several characters and elements from James’ other works. As the results, “The Haunting of ably Manor” is a story with scares, emotional and historical depth, and talks about the power of love and relationships.

The horror from the series mostly comes from grief, guilt, pain and rage. The story is as complex as the beloved first installment “The Haunting of Hill House”. The editing leads us to jump back and forth time and space magically, strengthening the character development by showing each character’s rich backstory.

Stories and characters are connected with memory and reality complexly, and you definitely will find yourself weeping, especially in the heartbreaking last three episodes. You will see yourself in it and dig into your own memories of losing someone you loved, hurt by someone you trusted, and felt hopeless when part of you was faded away. We might be able to move on, but most of the time, we are trapped and never able to let go.

“The Haunting of Hill House” is Gothic, tragic, and more romantic than I could ever imagine. It’s about how we are traumatized by the past, and the ways we treated these scars will keep torturing us in the future. The series may not be scary, and it’s not trying hard to be… it’s not even the point. What terrified you is its incredible emotional core. The pain of unintentionally hurting people you cared about, and the regret of too late to express your feeling to the ones you deeply loved.

The cast is remarkable, the production and technique are mind-blowing. “The Haunting of Hill House” proves that a horror story doesn’t have to be scary to stick with you. This romantic horror series is going to haunt you till the end of the days.

GRADE: A–

Contact me at jiajinpin@gmail.com.  Follow social at @jjpin

  • Distributor: Netflix
  • Production: Amblin Television, Intrepid Pictures, and Paramount Television Studios
  • Creator: Mike Flanagan
  • Cast: Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Victoria Pedretti, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Amelia Eve
  • All 9 Episodes Are Available on Netflix Oct. 9 2020

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