Writer/director Mike Flanagan has been on my one to watch list since Occulus, I love how he tells his tales of the supernatural, and when he adapted The Haunting of Hill House, I had to share that with everyone, as I was sucked in by each episode, and was left an emotional wreck by the end of many of them, alternately freaked out, and heartbroken.
Hill House was a powerful watch.
So when Flanagan announced another in The Haunting series, using Henry James’ Turn of the Screw as a launching point, I knew I was in from the off. It’s a different sort of tale, and a different sort of scare. In fact, you could argue that it’s not as scary as Hill House, or scarier, depending on your emotional investment, and the way the story’s themes work on you, especially once that eighth episode rolls around and messes with everything.
Flanagan brings with him a bunch of familiar faces from Hill House, cast here in different roles, some against type, just to keep the viewer off balance. Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Victoria Perdetti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Kate Siegel are joined by Rahul Kohli, T’Nia Miller, Amelia Eve, Tahirah Sharif, Amelia Bea Smith, and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth.
What plays out on screen is a story of love, loss, and family, which seems to be the basis of all the best ghost stories.
There are scares, reveals, and ghosts aplenty (though there are not quite so many of the hidden ghosts that freaked out so many of Hill House’s viewers, but they are there), as we join a nanny, Dani Clayton (Perdetti) in looking after two children (Smith and Ainsworth), and develops friendships with those who work in the house, and soon learns that not everything is as it appears.
Over the course of nine episodes, spread over three discs, in the blu-ray set now available from Paramount Pictures, we explore Bly Manor in a story that makes you think, draws you in, and refuses to let you go even after the final credits roll. The image is crisp and clear, and I find myself watching all parts of the screen in all of Flanagan’s efforts, afraid I’ll miss something he’s hidden, or a little nod that has been included.
The blu-ray collection, one more reason I love physical media, boasts episode commentary on three of the episodes, as well as two fun featurettes, Home for the Haunted, and Welcome to Bly Manor, which revealed, to me at least, a stunning bit of information about the shooting location.
Both Hill House and Bly Manor are exceptional ghost stories, brought to life, in a loving long form episodic event, that lets the characters and the terror build (both feed off one another – the more you feel for the character the more scared you’ll be) and I feel a major rewatch of both is coming soon.
The Haunting of Bly Manor, much like The Haunting of Hill House, is available on DVD and blu-ray from Paramount Pictures now!