The Haunting of Bly Manor fails to deliver

The Haunting of Bly Manor fails to deliver

In pursuit of a good scary show to help pass the time, I decided to check out Netflix. And there, on the list of trending shows, I found The Haunting of Bly Manor. When I finished the first episode, I was surprised by how much I loved it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Yet, when I watched the second episode, that love turned into a like. I noticed the further I got into Bly Manor, the more I started to dislike it. My initial love for it slowly died away until it was nothing but hate. My dislike of Bly Manor was fueled by a multitude of various reasons. But, before I explain them, it’s necessary to give a brief explanation of the plot and background.

Bly Manor is based on the works of American author Henry James, primarily The Turn Of The Screw, a novella written in 1898. Bly Manor is a follow-up to prior series The Haunting of Hill House, but the story is a standalone.

The plot follows Dani, an American who travels to the British countryside to become the governess of two orphan siblings, Flora and Miles, after their previous nanny dies. They live in the titular mansion. Working at Bly Manor are housekeeper Hannah Grose, cook Owen Sharma and gardener Jamie. When strange things start happening, Dani realizes not all is as it seems.

Throughout the show, there’s a lot of time travel, flashbacks and memories, making Bly Manor feel like it was directed by an off-brand Christopher Nolan. I understand that the purpose of the multiple timelines was to give the plot an expansive, complex feel, but it didn’t work out. It felt unnecessary and, at some points, borderline ridiculous. One reason for this is that the majority of the story takes place at Bly Manor. It’s frustrating how this makes the story feel condensed. I realized that the only parts of the show I liked were when the plot left Bly Manor, such as when it briefly goes to London to visit Flora’s and Miles’s uncle.

The attempted gloomy atmosphere doesn’t help. The show has a thick fog of darkness that penetrates any lightness or humor. While this is intentional to create a gothic feel, in this case, it feels very sparse since the majority of the plot takes place at the manor. I usually like this sort of darkness but, in this instance, it feels dreary and makes it hard to sit through the hour-long episodes.

Furthermore, many of the scenes are dreadfully stretched out and repeated, which feels like a way of taking up time and an excuse for lazy writing. It’s maddening how so many of the scenes are repeated and made me want to scream while watching it. I want to see progress and development in the plot, not the same scene repeated multiple times.

Bly Manor drags on and on and on, repeating the same scenes and stretching them out, making it unbearable to watch and resulting in a ridiculously bland and unexciting plot. Consequently, when a scary or suspenseful scene finally arrives, it feels like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, most of the scares aren’t that good. They’re predictable, and they rely on cliches. Thankfully, not all of the scares were jump scares, which can feel uncreative when used solely by themselves. In this case, the balance was just right.

Despite the copious amounts of time spent on backstories and character development, the characters still felt one dimensional and without depth (the same can be said about the plot of the show). The characters seemed dull, making all the backstories seem pointless.

Overall, I didn’t particularly care for Bly Manor. It felt stretched out, and the characters were boring. The lack of scares was also disappointing. The show felt tedious and agonizing. I know a lot of people love Bly Manor, critics included, and that made me wonder why I wasn’t one of them. Maybe it was because I sort of binge-watched it. But, isn’t that how shows nowadays are designed to be watched? And Bly Manor is no exception, with every episode ending on a cliffhanger. Furthermore, I feel like labeling Bly Manor as a member of the horror genre is a bit misleading; it’s more about romance than scares. For me, the only thing scary about Bly Manor was how bad it was.

Nevertheless, if you want a show about love and its dark side, I suggest you check out Bly Manor. I especially suggest it if you want something that will help pass the time until COVID-19 is gone. But, as for me, I’d much rather pass the time playing Among Us.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is available through Netflix and stars Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Amelia Eve. It is rated TV-MA.