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The Haunting of Bly Manor review: spooky story falls short of Hill House's horror 

See our review of Netflix's new drama The Haunting of Bly Manor 

haunting bly manor
Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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The Haunting of Hill House is considered by many to be one of Netflix's undervalued masterpieces. Praised by Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino alike, the tale of the five siblings traumatised by their childhood in a haunted house was impeccably told, full of scream-worthy moments, but with quite a beautiful sentiment behind it. So how did the follow-up, The Haunting of Bly Manorcompare? Read our review here... 

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Writers did their best to recreate the thrills and chills in the new show, which is landed on Netflix on Friday. Starring several of the original cast - albeit some with awful English accents - the new series is an adaptation of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, and introduces us to a new haunted house, Bly Manor. 

WATCH: The Haunting of Bly Manor's trailer is here

The series resembles the 19th-century novella in many ways, but with some key differences. The action has been updated to take place in the 1980s, which sees a somewhat bizarre yet enjoyable riff on what the Victorian-era tale. Like with Hill House, it is also a very loose adaptation, adding plot lines to fatten up the novella's source material. 

haunting of bly manor© Photo: Netflix

The show is loosely based on The Turn of the Screw

The series follows a kindly au pair, Dani, who moves to an old English home to take care of two 'perfectly splendid' youngsters there, Miles and Flora, largely to escape her own troubles. 

dani haunting© Photo: Netflix

Victoria Pedretti plays the new au pair, Dani

The series has a strong start as the audience and the au pair begin to realise that there is something wrong with the children - and with Bly Manor itself - where the children's former au pair recently committed suicide. Flora is seeing things that aren't there, while Miles unnerves Dani with his creepy charm. 

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As the series progresses, the story becomes more and more far fetched, pushing the viewers' suspension of disbelief to breaking point. Even in the context of a haunted show, the plot points become somewhat bewildering particularly when certain characters are just as haunted by their past as they are by the spectres at Bly Manor, leading the audience to wonder just what is intended to be 'real' and what isn't. There are also certainly less 'jumpy' moments than in season one, though this might come as a relief to some!

hannah grose© Photo: Netflix

T'Nia Miller plays Hannah Grose in the new series

There was a clear message in The Haunting of Hill House. As said by Nell: "I loved you completely. And you loved me the same. The rest is confetti." Unfortunately, season two's overall intention is murky, leaving the ending somewhat unsatisfying. 

READ: Black History Month: best things to watch on Netflix and NOW TV

flora bly manor© Photo: Netflix

Are you looking forward to the new series?

However, that's not to say the show isn't worth the watch! There are some very strong performances here, where the cast does their best in giving the wayward storyline plausibility, with You's Victoria Pedretti doing a remarkable job as the tragic au pair holding onto her sanity by a thread, while Years and Years star T'Nia Miller gives an award-winning performance as the housekeeper, Hannah Grose. 

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