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The Haunting of Bly Manor Review

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

As we turn to the next chapter in Mike Flanagan's adaptations of cult horror classics, our focus shifts from Hill House onto Bly Manor – an English countryside estate, complete with its fanciful staffing, troubled children and a dismal, wretched past.

Flanagan's filmography is a beacon, a shining light that serves as a reminder that there is hope yet for the genre. There is a means to end the curse that is overused horror tropes, desperate jump scares and flimsy, slipshod writing at the expense of narrative integrity. His manner is artful, his direction poignant and his writing style so incredibly intimate. His genre-blending na

rrative techniques set him apart from commercial horror as he persistently riots against the confines of the idea that something cannot claim to be a part of the true canon of horror if it fails to frighten, to scare or to induce cheap bursts of adrenaline within its audience. Flanagan effectively frees himself from the shackles of popular opinion and transgresses the limits of what horror

constitutes traditionally. Through the veiled, murky stories that wander around Hill House and Bly Manor, waiting to be told, waiting to be heard, Flanagan shines brightest in his storytelling capacity.

The terrific ensemble of the season packed with the familiar faces of recurring cast members compounds the brilliance that Flanagan has to offer. It's fairly evident how Victoria Pedretti's Dani and T'Nia Miller's Miss Grose steal the show; the determined, selfless au pair and the warm, considerate housekeeper make for some powerful performances. It is always quite the spectacle to witness child actors perform roles that carry fairly mature themes, especially in horror as a genre and Amelie Bea Smith alongside Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as on-screen siblings Flora and Miles do so admirably. And newcomers Rahul Kohli and Amelia Eve are just such treats to watch; their character, the charming chef Owen and the snarky gardener Jamie adding some much needed life to the otherwise despondent estate at Bly.

While Hill House left us shattered through its display of the extremes a family would go to to fend for one's own, Bly Manor explores the transcendental nature that love has to offer in all its forms and manifestations. Each character undergoes a transformative arc of lapse, self-reflection and reconciliation as they experience love in beautiful, enrapturing and sometimes even fatal ways. We are introduced to the idea that to love someone or something to the point of losing oneself forges an inevitable bond between love and loss. That love and loss are forever intertwined, two sides of the same coin. Bly Manor explores

the painful reality of coming to terms with losing loved ones in what is, what was and what could have been. The literal gravity of the burden one carries out of love and out of loss, always runs the risk of eating away at one's very soul, perhaps even those of others. The narrative attributes the fear of being forgotten, the sheer dread of being but a distant memory in the minds of others to what comprises the truest, most undeniable horror of the series. One that continues to haunt the thoughts of its viewers long after its culmination.

The tension, the buildup and the release are pillars of horror filmmaking. And Flanagan recognises their relevance, their significance however opts to transform his own craft in the process. And thus, we are blessed with the atmospheric sexual tension of lovers, the buildup of pent up grief and anguish from loss and the ultimate release through acceptance and reconciliation. And therein the brilliance lies, with love, loss and acceptance at Bly.

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