October Review: The Haunting of Bly Manor

You thought a review of The Magicians was the best we could offer to cap off Spooky Season? No! We have a genuine haunting!

Netflix was happy to supply us with more haunted houses for Halloween.  This year’s Haunting is a follow up from The Haunting of Hill House, this time with The Haunting of Bly Manor.  The series is an anthology style, so if you skipped Hill House, you can still dive in without missing anything.  If you like anxiety, this will make you second guess the noises you hear in your house.  Does it hold up compared to the first season?


The Haunting of Bly Manor

Created and written by Mike Flanagan


Amelie Bea Smith as Flora
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Miles
Henry Thomas as Henry Wingrave
Victoria Pedretti as Dani Clayton
T’Nia Miller as Mrs. Grose
Rahul Kohli as Owen
Calix Fraser as Doll Face Ghost
Andrew Neil McKenzie as Soldier Ghost
Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Peter


After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with the chef Owen, groundskeeper Jamie, and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose.   (From IMDB.)

High Point:

The framing device for the show is the story is being told to an assembled collection.  This works well to put the non-linear style of story into a different context.

Low Point:

It is predicable.  Within the first episode, the twists of what is happening to the characters were slightly telegraphed, and it is obvious enough that when it’s revealed towards the climax that it falls flat.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Haunted houses?  Maybe dead people?  Playing with the timeline?  It has been done.

Effects: 5/6 The effects are pretty minimal, but all of them seem to be pulled off very well.

Acting: 3/6 The accents don’t feel right, and nobody is quite convincing enough.  Occasionally, a character seeming to be deceptive turns out to just be unconvincing acting.  The exception is the children, who are charming (when meant to be) and convincing throughout.

Production: 4/6 There is a significant amount of forced focus, keeping the background or items in the foreground out of focus until they want that to become the focus.  It’s an effective trick.

Story: 2/6  The story is interesting, but did not require this much time to tell.  By the end, they attempt to swerve the story into a new point, but it undercuts the reason for meandering as much as the story does.  To be fair, the story does begin with the premise that it is a long story just to pass the time.

Emotional Response: 2/6 By the end of the show, it is more commitment to hearing the resolution than it is the empathy for the characters

Overall: 3/6 The show begs to be rewatched to catch all of the details revealed by the end, but it is not necessarily strong enough to actually rewatch it.

In total, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” receives 21/42

`Lex’s Personal Notes:

  • Does it hold up compared to the first season?  No.  It’s not a bad sophomore offering, but if you are only going to watch one season, start with the first season.
  • There is one ghost (the one with glowing eyes) that doesn’t fit into the rest of the narrative of Bly.
  • There is a scene where there is an argument alone out at a bonfire, where you can see someone standing, out of focus in the background.  This is also never addressed.


October 3/4: Mandy (2018)

October 10/11: Cry of the Werewolf (1944) and Silver Bullet (1985)

October17/18: Color out of Space (2019)

October 24/25: Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Novel and Movie

October 30: The Magicians (Seasons 1,2, 3, and 4)

Halloween: The Haunting of Bly Manor Surprise!