No Light Without the Dark
The Haunting of Bly Manor hurt me, but I loved every second of it. Considering the Netflix original is a follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House, one of my favorite shows, the series had big shoes to fill. As one of the few adequate horror series, The Haunting of Hill House excited horror genre fans and avid Netflix show bingers alike however, what makes Bly Manor particularly unique is that it is not just a “scary story”, but crosses over into the genre of a love story, a coming of age story, and a tragedy as well.
Based loosely on Henry James’ novella, The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Bly Manor follows the stories of its current and former inhabitants while unveiling the ominous origin story of the house itself. Two children, Flora and Miles, orphaned when their parents died, occupy the manor along with their caretakers and the few personnel of the residence. As the apparitions of the house grow restless and begin to infiltrate their lives, relationships are exposed, betrayals occur, and devastating events unfold.
The emotions evoked by the characters’ heart-breaking and soul-crushing narratives was the most powerful element of the show. They were holistic people possessing flaws, secrets, and inner demons which embodied the ambiguous and imperfect nature of humans. This can be attributed to impeccable character development, as from the first episode to the season finale there was a constant lack of knowledge regarding motivations and backstories. This made the account simultaneously immersive, enthralling, and devastating as explanations and revelations gradually emerged throughout the series.
At times, the show was extremely bleak and hope was seemingly nonexistent. However, the characters found ways to prevail in unexpected ways negotiating a balance between light and darkness. And while good did not entirely triumph over evil in the end, it found a way to coexist with it.