The Haunting Of Bly Manor Review: Begins As A Ghost Story, Ends As A Love Story - GMonsterTV

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The Haunting Of Bly Manor Review: Begins As A Ghost Story, Ends As A Love Story

Mike Flanagan's second entry in "The Haunting" anthology dropped on NetFlix on October 7th. It seems that each season will be based on an important literary work. Season 1 ("The Haunting Of Hill House") was based on Shirley Jackson's quintessential haunted house novel. See my reviews here 

Season 2 is based on an 1898 novella by Henry James called "The Turn Of the Shrew". It has been adapted a number of times on stage and screen. There is a 1961 movie called "The Innocents" starring Deborah Kerr. There's also a 2020 movie called "The Turning".  

The original texts from both seasons are just used as a jumping off point. Some of the characters and the settings might be the same but the stories go in completely different directions. That's good since i already know how the original ends. I also enjoy the fact that Flanagan, like Ryan Murphy, reuses many of the same actors in different stories. Returning this time are: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, and Kate Siegel (Mike's wife IRL) Both seasons also play around with the time. We've not sure what happened when and what is reality vs fiction. .   

The framework of "Bly Manor" is an interesting one. It is told as a story to a group of people at a wedding rehearsal dinner. In 1987 a young American governess named Dani (Victoria Pedretti) arrives at Bly Manor to take care of two young children-- Flora (Amelia Bea Smith, she is also the voice of Peppa the Pig) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). Flora likes to say "perfectly splendid" a lot. Her brother was recently expelled from boarding school under mysterious circumstances. Their parents (Charlotte and Dominic) were killed while oversees. The children are financially taken care of by their Uncle Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) but he wants nothing to do with them. 

At Bly, Dani meets several other people-- chef Owen (Rahl Kohli, previously from "iZombie), housekeeper Hannah (T'Nia Miller) and gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve). Each person has their own issues which are explored in later episodes.  

It is obviously early on that something is seriously wrong with Dani. Add to that, some very strange goings on around the manor. Is it haunted? Maybe. Are the children under some sort of spell? Maybe. Basically everyone on this show acts a little "off". We later learn some of the strange behavior is because the children's previous teacher Rebecca (Tahirah Sharif) drowned herself over her breakup with the family's assistant/driver Peter Quinn (Oliver Jackson Cohen). He is currently missing.    

The existence of the ghosts is eventually explained. Sisters Viola and Perdita Willoughby originally lived in the manor. Their father passed away. Women at that time could not own property. Viola quickly finds a distant cousin to marry. But she gets some sort of lung disease and is given last rites (which she refuses). She lingers on for another six years until her sister decides to end her life. Is it mercy or is just the fact that Perdita is tired of being inconvenienced?. Before she dies, Viola locks away her finest jewelry and dresses in a foot locker for safe keeping for her daughter. After Viola's death, Perdita marries her brother in law. The family falls on hard times. Pedita thinks they might be able to survive if they sell the items in the foot locker. She opens it. Viola is inside and scares her to death. Viola's spirit continues to refuse to leave the property. Hubbie Andrew thinks the foot locker is possessed and throws it into the lake..Each day Viola (now known as The Lady In The Lake) wakes up there. She walks into the house leaving muddy footprints. She is in search of her daughter. This cycle repeats over and over again even though she has no memory of who she is or why she is doing this. Viola captures the souls of several other people in this purgatory. Besides sis Perdita, there is a plague doctor, a priest that tries to do an exorcism, a small child and others.   

This is where the story started to fall apart a bit for me. I just dont buy that what we saw caused all these ensuing years of pain. Don't get me wrong I LOVE Kate Siegel in everything she does. I just found it a strange choice. 

I wont go into the specifics of the rest of the story. Suffice to say, it's a bit of a mystery until the end. And that's when the narrators words "To truly love another person is to accept that the work of loving them is worth the pain of losing them" finally make sense.  

Grade: 4 3/4 Monsters (out of 5). "The Haunting Of Hill House" was my #1 favorite show of 2018.While it's pretty hard to top that, I still very much enjoyed "The Haunting Of Bly Manor". Sure the show is marketed as horror but it's really about love, grief and sacrifice. 

Season 2 has fewer scares than season 1 (the Bent Neck Lady still freaks me out) but the character building here is excellent. With just nine episodes total, "The Haunting Of Bly Manor" is a relatively fast watch. Standout performances include T'Nia Miller. I found her screen presence to be very compelling. Her's is one of the most powerful stories. 

I wont give the rest of the story away. Just watch it and see what you think. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy. As with season 1, "Bly Manor" is a real tear jerker.  

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TV: Heavy On Horror, Sci Fi, Fantasy & Adventure

October 20, 2020   

The Haunting Of Bly Manor Review: Begins As A Ghost Story, Ends As A Love Story Reviewed by GMonsterTV on 7:38 AM Rating: 5 Mike Flanagan's second entry in "The Haunting" anthology dropped on NetFlix on October 7th. It seems that each season will be ...

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