Bly Manor, a House of Amazement and Problems

For those unaware, horror fans are always desperately looking for quality content. While there’s nothing wrong with a fun popcorn horror film that gets teenagers to scream at every jump scare, a horror movie with some actual thought is always welcomed. It’s because of this that films like Host, A Quiet Place, and Midsommar get touted as these all-time classics the minute they’re released. When you find a diamond, it doesn’t matter how small it is because you still found a diamond amid all of that dirt. It’s why when Netflix announced that they were following up their hit show Haunting of Hill House with The Haunting of Bly Manor, the anticipation began to build. Hill House was a fantastic show that told a great story, had memorable characters, and one of the best scares of all-time. Bly Manor had a large hill to climb. The question now is, were they successful or like Jack and Jill. I was referring to the nursery rhyme, but now that I think about it, the Adam Sandler film works too. Both had terrible outcomes.

ANYWAYS, Bly Manor takes on the challenge of following Hill House and does the smartest thing possible. It doesn’t compete. The truth of the matter is, Bly Manor isn’t a ghost story. It’s a love story. While the show’s direction may turn some fans off, for those willing to accept the show for what it is, they will walk away with a smile on their face, a tear in their eye, and a few questions in their head. Don’t get me wrong. Bly Manor brings some genuinely creepy moments. It just isn’t necessarily interested in giving you nightmares.

What the show is interested in giving you are some loveable characters. Whether it’s T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, or Amelia Eve, they all seem to have the impressive ability to either make me fall in love with them or weep like a baby. The Haunting franchise seems to enjoy bringing back cast members from the previous season, and I’d be more than happy to see these three return for next season. Speaking of the returning cast, while Oliver Jackson-Cohen does a fantastic job as the arrogant Peter Quint, I’d like to throw the spotlight onto two actors who honestly don’t need it at this point: Victoria Pedretti and Henry Thomas. While I do not doubt that Netflix takes good care of their actors on set, I hope they had a designated hydrator for Ms. Pedretti. This woman acts her butt off for the entire season. One minute she’s hyperventilating, the next she’s crying, then making out with someone, and with all of this, I have to imagine she must be exhausted. Stay hydrated, people! As for Mr. E.T. himself, Henry Thomas is giving the kind of performance that makes me wish I was an actor. Victoria’s performance as Dani looks hard, while Thomas’ performance, while just as impressive, looks like a lot of fun. Whether he’s being rude and cold or entirely over the top, I loved everything he does in this show.

Typically, when I write a review, I usually put the negative stuff in the middle to end on a high note, but because I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, here we are. Because I liked this show so much, I will attempt to spin my criticisms into a positive discussion. While the show tells a great story, there are two episodes on first viewing that severely slow the show’s pace. The fun part about this series is the rewatch, though. Knowing where the story is already going could potentially allow for these slower episodes to be more enjoyable. Unfortunately, I don’t think that multiple viewings will fix that the show might be doing too much. Without spoiling anything, two plots are happening within the show that ends with confusion. While one ends abruptly with no real conclusion, the other leads the audience right to where you think it’s going and then makes a choice that doesn’t quite make any sense. The beauty of a show like this is the conversation that it can create. I may have had issues with these two plot lines’ conclusions, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t theories about what happened. Talking to friends about why they think certain things happened is a lot of fun, and why shows like this are so great.

Looking past these two complaints, though, the show still manages to deliver a beautifully satisfying end. While it may not have been what I was expecting, It gave me everything I could have hoped for from a fantastic new show. While Netflix is very fickle when it comes to renewing shows after the 2nd season, I’m optimistic that with how popular The Haunting of Bly Manor has been that we’ll have at least one more haunting in our future.

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