“The Haunting of Hill House” took the world by storm when it first premiered on Netflix in 2018. Mike Flanagan’s reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel of the same name centered on the Crain family — jumping back and forth in time to unravel the many mysteries of their family and the very haunted house they grew up in. The series went on to become a massive success among both critics and audiences, so it wasn’t shocking when Netflix jumped at the opportunity to renew it for a second season. This news also came hot on the heels of an announcement that Flanagan and his producing partner, Trevor Macy, had signed a multi-year deal with the streaming giant. Not only does the deal include more seasons for “The Haunting” anthology series, but another series is also currently in the works for the streamer called “Midnight Mass.”
Thankfully, we don’t have to wait much longer for the former’s highly anticipated second season, though, as it’s gearing up to hit the streaming platform this Friday. However, before you dive into a full-blown binge of Flanagan’s new series, here’s everything you need to know about “The Haunting of Bly Manor” before watching. Let’s dive in, shall we?
What’s it based on?
Unlike its predecessor, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is based on a different classic novel: Henry James’s 1898 horror novella “The Turn of the Screw.” The book centers on a young governess who is hired to take care of two children, Flora and Miles, who were left in their uncle’s care after their parents died. After accepting the job, she heads to their English country house, Bly, but finds that there’s more to this location than meets the eye. Ghosts haunt its many hallways, and no matter how hard she tries, the governess can’t seem to escape them.
Multiple adaptations of James’s story have been made over the years, including Jack Clayton’s 1961 film, “The Innocents,” and Floria Sigismondi’s 2020 release, “The Turning.” And while “The Turn of the Screw” will serve as the backbone for Flanagan’s adaptation, it will actually draw from several other novels written by James as well. In a behind-the-scenes video for Netflix, Flanagan explained that “the opportunity to go further into Henry James’s library and to look at some of his other ghost stories, to try to find a way to bring them all together… it was a challenge we really couldn’t say no to.” In fact, he even exclaimed in an interview with GamesRadar+ that “The Turn of the Screw” is “only one of a dozen stories that we’re telling.” Some other stories that they’re covering include “The Jolly Corner” and “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes.”
What’s the show’s plot?
Similar to James’s original novel, but taking place in 1987, the story centers on an au pair who, per Netflix’s official synopsis, “plunges into an abyss of chilling secrets in this gothic romance.” In the same behind-the-scenes video from before, Flanagan also revealed that he “really wanted to play more with ghosts as an expression of emotional wounds that we carry around,” which is very similar to the route he took with “Hill House.” However, unlike “Hill House”, which focused on a family grappling with the traumatic events they experienced at the titular location, “Bly Manor” is about strangers coming together and creating their own family.
“Bly Manor” is also “at its heart, a love story,” according to Flanagan. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he describes the love stories as having “a very dark edge to them,” and that, by the end, “it’s really hard to differentiate tragedy with romance.” He continues on to say, “That sense of romantic longing for someone who meant so much to us — but who’s gone — really is the heart of any ghost story.” So expect to see connections between characters flourish amid all of the spooky storytelling.
Who’s starring in it?
“Bly Manor” will also see plenty of familiar faces returning from “Hill House,” along with some exciting new additions as well. As far as returning cast members go, Victoria Pedretti, who portrayed adult Nell in “Hill House”, will be playing the tutor named Dani Clayton who’s hired to take care of Miles and Flora (played by Benjamin Evan Ainsworth and Amelie Bea Smith, respectively). Oliver Jackson-Coen, who played the older version of Nell’s twin brother Luke in “Hill House”, is also returning, along with Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel, who played the younger version of their father Hugh Crain and the adult version of their older sister Theo, respectively.
Alongside Ainsworth and Smith, plenty of newcomers have also joined the cast of “Bly Manor.” Tahirah Sharif (“A Christmas Prince”) will play Miss Jessel, the children’s former governess in James’s novel, Amelia Eve (“Enterprice”) will play the groundskeeper named Jamie and T’Nia Miller (“Years and Years”) will play the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. “iZombie” and “Harley Quinn” actor Rahul Kohli also stars as Bly Manor’s chef, Owen.
Will there still be hidden ghosts?
If you’re like me, you loved finding all of the hidden ghosts lurking in the background of “Hill House.” And, thankfully, “Bly Manor” will have even more hiding in the shadows! During his interview with Vanity Fair, Flanagan also divulged that, “This season we wanted our hidden elements to tell their own story.” Unlike “Hill House”, the ghosts are “actually going to be explained. By the end of the season, you’re going to know who they are and why they’re there.” So make sure to keep your eyes peeled for any and all figures that roam the halls of Bly when everyone least expects.
“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is the perfect show to watch this Halloween season, and it’ll be exciting to see what Flanagan does with James’s many thrilling ghost stories. It’s officially available on Netflix, so make sure to check it out. You can keep up with the Shuffle shenanigans on Twitter and Instagram.
Featured image credit: Netflix