Arts & Culture

Spooky Review: The Haunting of Bly Manor

Sarah Burke, staff writer

I am a huge baby when it comes to horror movies. Anything a pinch over thriller and I hide under my covers. So, I’m not sure what initially drew me to The Haunting of Bly Manor. I suppose there is something to be said about spooky-season peer pressure. If there’s anytime to watch something scary, it’s now. But by the end, I was happy to have invested nearly ten hours to finish this show. 

The Haunting of Bly Manor begins following the journey of Dani, an au pair from the States coming to England in the 1980’s. Her job is to take care of two children, Flora and Miles, in an illustrious mansion. The manor itself is perfect jump scare material with humanesque statutes, big portraits of people long dead and long winding hallways. From about halfway through the first episode, it is clear this nanny is going to be in for a real treat. 

The two children are normal at first but slowly you begin to realize there is something off about them. It doesn’t help when the very first night the girl, Flora, warns Dani to not leave her room at night. Though Dani brushes it off, Flora is insistent that bad things will come if she leaves her room. At that point I was getting nervous because I knew it was only a matter of time before some ghost jumped out of nowhere. I wasn’t wrong. 

Dani is not the only person employed in the residence. There is Jamie, the gardener, Owen, the cook, and Hannah, the housekeeper. At first I wrote them off as unimportant side characters, but by the end of the show you realize that these were some of the main characters all along. There is also a mysterious narrator that only appears in the beginning, but can be heard throughout the show, weaving the tale with a posh, British accent. 

I think the acting was spectacular, especially by the actor who plays Miles. Miles is about ten in the show, but through the story acts far beyond his years and pulls out emotions that most ten-year-olds can’t even fathom. He has this creepy smirk he uses when he is manipulating one of the adults that will give you real shivers. 

Ironically enough, I believe the main theme of the show was actually love. Each episode centered on one character and their experience at the manor. Through all of the terrible events, each character grows close to someone (romantically, familial, and platonically) and learns to love through the suffering. I really thought that humanized the horror theme and made you even sadder when they got killed. 

One part that really stood out to me was their representation of a LGBTQ+ couple. Without spoiling anything, the show dives into the struggles of being a queer person in a time and place where you didn’t feel safe coming out. Though they told the story in a very gruesome way, it still pleasantly surprised me that a horror show included the couple at all. 

Though this show wasn’t as scary as its predecessor The Haunting of Hill House, it did give off an eerie feeling that sticks with you after you finish the show. I believe that comes from the show’s over-arching theme of grief and trauma and how it affects a family throughout generations. The end of the show brings a sort of melancholy closure that seemed appropriate for a horror show.

If you came to this show hoping for even more horror than The Haunting of Hill House, I would maybe watch something else. This show was perfect for me (a scaredy-cat), but a veteran horror movie enthusiast may want to look into the latest Jordan Peele movie instead. I would say if you have a friend that wants to get into horror, this might be a good starter. It does have a lot of jump scares, but it leaves enough time in between them to relax for a bit before another ghost pops out of nowhere. Happy Halloween and enjoy the show!