Is the long-awaited horror reboot worth watching? (no spoilers)


The Haunting of Bly Manor dropped on Netflix October 9. The series is predicted to return for a third installment, but has been delayed due to COVID-19 production restrictions. Photo Credit: Netflix

Ever since “The Haunting of Hill House” exploded in popularity in October 2018, fans of the popular series have been eagerly awaiting the release of a teased second season. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” premiered on Netflix earlier this month, surprising watchers by taking an unexpected plot turn.

Rather than continue the plot of the existing series, the creators decided to bring back previous cast members to play new characters in a completely different story, similar to popular anthologies “Black Mirror” and “American Horror Story.”

Based loosely on “The Turn of the Screw,” a horror novella by Henry James, the nine-episode series takes place primarily in London in the 1980s. The story follows Dani Clayton, a nanny who takes a job caring for two young children at the ominous Bly Manor and quickly realizes that the kids, the other staff, and the home itself are not exactly as normal as they appear.

The show requires a detailed explanation of the backstory to properly tell the story, so the first few episodes are far less action-packed than the rest of the season. Once the plot picks up steam around halfway through the series, many seemingly unimportant details from the early episodes are explained and given a crucial part in the rest of the story. 

If you’re a die-hard horror fan, you may be disappointed in the fear factor of the story. It is far less scary than its predecessor, and is much more unsettling than frightening. However, what the show lacks in scares, it makes up for with a fascinating story and interesting characters. 

Each character has their own backstory and strange quirks that work together to create the off-putting vibe of the show that fans loved in “The Haunting of Hill House.” 

It is not necessary to watch Hill House before you tackle Bly Manor, but if you’re looking for something to keep you up at night, you would likely prefer the first installment of the series. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” perfectly fits into the middle ground of horror that doesn’t leave you shaking in fear, but might push you to be more mindful of an odd noise or a dark doorway in your home.

★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)