When it streamed, The Haunting Of Hill House set the bar very high in terms of creepy yet heartfelt drama. But it was such a roaring success that production quickly began on The Haunting Of Bly Manor, loosely based on Henry James's 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw. While a completely different story, it does form part of the anthology and follows a similar theme of a family living in a haunted house.
Enough time has passed between the two shows that creator Mike Flanagan was able to re-cast some of the same faces, albeit as completely different characters. The story begins at a wedding in 2007 when a guest decides to tell a ghost story by the fireside, taking the eager listeners back to where it all began in 1987 at Bly Manor in England. Dani (Victoria Pedretti) is an American looking for a job and quickly gets hired as a live-in nanny at the sprawling mansion. Her charges are two children, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) who is eight, and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) who is ten. At this point, they have lost both of their parents.
As Dani settles into her new life she has the housekeeper Hannah (T'Nia Miller), the cook Owen (Rahul Kohli from iZombie), and the gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve) to keep her company. But it soon becomes clear that all is not right with Bly Manor. As the story unfolds we learn about the previous nanny Rebecca (Tahirah Sharif) who committed suicide after her lover Peter (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) ran off without her. Or did he? Flora and Miles, while lovely most of the time, have a habit of changing personalities at the drop of a hat, and soon the ghostly occupants of the house become all too real.
Over nine episodes we learn all about Bly Manor and the history that has woven its way into the fabric of the walls. And while it is creepy with plenty of jumpy moments, though not as many as Hill House, The Haunting Of Bly Manor is ultimately a very tragic love story. It's only when you've exhaled as the credits roll that you fully realise that every relationship conceived in the manor has been steeped in a love so heartbreaking that its legacy has haunted the house for hundreds of years.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor is a superbly crafted show with excellent characters and actors who play them. You're never really sure what is going on and yet the story is gripping right to the last minute. The setting, the scenery, the cast, the production, and of course the actual story are seamlessly blended to create a brand new story from The Haunting series. It's not the same as Hill House but that doesn't make it any less immersive and beautiful.