As October weather fills the air (it’s not but let’s pretend), we can’t help but want to curl up on our couches with a comforting blanket and a heap of scary movies and terrifying shows. It’s that Halloween vibe, you know?
But here’s the thing about Halloween/scary shows…sometimes, you get a lot more than you bargained for. Actually, sometimes you get something else entirely that you’re not really sure what to think.
If you caught our not-so-subtle drift, yes, we’re talking about the Haunting of Bly Manor. See, we’ve just wrapped up our binge-watch and there’s a lot we need to talk about!
warning: will contain spoilers
Like its predecessor, the Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor is a story about a haunted house. Except this time, the haunted house is in England.
We get to follow that story through the eyes of Dani (Hill House, You), a young au pair who came to Bly Manor to teach and take care of two orphans, Miles and Flora, with their housekeeper, cook, and gardener.
When we and Dani first meet the Bly Manor residents, we see they’re still recovering from two shocks. The deaths of the kids’ parents and the suicide of their first au pair soon after her boyfriend scammed the family and ran away.
Naturally, this isn’t all. Aside from all the roaming ghosts, we see that every resident has their fair share of personal secrets and we get to see how they can be just as haunting as actual ghosts are.
Characters and Grief as the True Horror
Bly Manor has a lot of characters. And we mean a lot. Even the side characters get the spotlight in ways that are simply compelling.
But all these characters, whether the tense Dani or the distracted Hannah or the sometimes-creepy Miles and Flora or the distant Henry have one thing in common. All these characters are grieving.
And they’re all grieving and feeling guilty about their grief. You can even see it sometimes in the ghosts following both Dani and Henry, stopping them from fully living their lives. In a way, the entire haunting happens because of grief.
The first ghost that has ever haunted Bly, Viola, came into existence because of her grief and anger – that is literally why she’s always on a rampage. And that is why only angry spirits (like Peter) go about wrecking havoc too.
But where grief and trauma-induced grief are the true monsters always lurking behind, only one thing is set up as the antidote.
Selfless love, the exact kind shown by Dani and Hannah’s sacrifices, is the thing that finally ends the hauntings and heals the generations of suffering — talk about a powerful message!
Final Verdict and “Is It Actually Scary-Scary?”
So here’s the thing — The Haunting of Bly Manor is set up as the ultimate scary ghost story, right? Well, it really isn’t. Even one of the characters says it.
Despite the jump-scares and the ghosts lurking in the background and the overall creepy vibe, Bly Manor is just sad. And we mean that literally. It’s a story that’s emotional and at times, very predictable and repetitive.
But might leave you thinking or it won’t. Either way, you’ll just be feeling so sad and heartbroken and simply glad it’s over.
If you’re looking for something with a Classic Horror vibe, you won’t really get it here. However, if it’s a metaphor-deep story, well…you know the drill.
Verdict: so not Halloween — horror in the society-and-heartbreak sense.