Review: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

A suspense driven drama with some incredible performances although lacked the scary moments I was expecting. 

PLOT AND STORY 

The Haunting of Bly Manor follows the story of an american nanny who looks after two kids living at the family estate of Bly Manor. We learn as does the nanny that all is not what it seems at Bly Manor when things start to go bump in the night.

Not a sequel to The Haunting of Hill House but more the next chapter by creator Mike Flanagan so it will be difficult not to make comparisons. This has a number of haunting and shocking moments but not quite on level I was expecting from the level Hill House delivered. Bly Manor focuses more on the character relationships and explores the deeper connections between the past and the present. 

The story focuses on seven main characters and what I enjoyed was how they all got their time to shine. The children Miles and Flora and their nanny Dani are certainly the characters to get the most screen time and it’s their relationships in which the story is driven by. Dani comes to Bly Manor with a troubled past and the writers cleverly entwine her history and her emotional struggles with similar conflicts being confronted by the young children.

As with all good mysteries Bly Manor had me guessing till the very end. Marketed as a horror I was a little disappointed by the lack of scary moments. This was a very good story but felt more like a love story drama than the country estate english horror the Netflix trailers marketed it as. This is not to be completely critical of the show as there are a few moments which make you jump but they were far and few between.

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION

The Haunting of Bly Manor is a perfect example of why you can’t beat practical, on location filming. Although being produced in Vancouver Canada the property used for Bly Manor does an excellent job of doubling as an English country estate.

The signature move for this series was suspense and it executes it perfectly. Every time the scene starts to take a dark twist there is a beautiful score which builds the suspense while long, slow movements by the camera bring the audience to the edge of their seat in anticipation. The Newton Brothers who provide all the music for Bly Manor I feel can expect some award nominations next season after producing a perfect blend of music which sets the tone for every scene.

CAST

This is where the series impressed me the most. Just like The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor takes a relatively unknown, yet experienced cast and gives them the opportunity and freedom to display their talents.

There were two outstanding performances for me and a number of very good performances whileI found myself not being disappointed in any of the cast. I will start with the outstanding performances and up first is young actor Benjamin Evan Ainsworth. Playing Miles an 11 year old troubled private school pupil Ainsworth has a huge task playing multiple personalities and excels when taking on the personality of someone much older.

Rahul Kohli delivers my second outstanding performance as the house cook Owen. Kohli provides such a wide range of emotions throughout the series and brings the character through some of the biggest highs and lows. His chemistry with house keeper Mrs Grose played by T’Nia Miller is particularly great.

Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are all returnees from The Haunting of Hill House who round out a good ensemble cast.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this series I was a little disappointed it was scarier however Bly Manor is a well produced, clever story with a talented cast. A number of the elements that worked for Hill House are present here and make ‘The Haunting of’ a true anthology series to rival American Horror Story.

I watched this via Netflix and received no incentive to review this series.

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