A Haunting of Love and Tragedy

Xochitl Marin

On October 9, Netflix released the long-awaited sequel to The Haunting anthology, The Haunting of Bly Manor, giving viewers a story full of hauntings, ghosts, love, and loss. 

The Haunting of Bly Manor takes viewers back to the 1980s as they follow Dani Clayton, an American au pair after she flees the United States to London after a traumatizing accident occurs which is narrated by a mysterious woman, whose identity is revealed at the end of the season. 

Like its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, Bly Manor, director Mike Flanagan, takes what would be a typical scary plot about a haunted house whose spirits haunt the living that lives amongst them, and adds other little subplots into the story to spice things up that in the end give us something much more than another classic ghost story. 

One of the many important aspects that turn the show into more than a horror show is how Flanagan pulls on the emotional strings of the viewers by giving the characters’ stories a shared theme surrounded by hardships that anyone can relate to one way or another.  

“Bly Manor is less a horror show about a family and more of a family show plagued with horrors, both based in the real world and ghostlike.” stated Paul Tassi in his article Netflix’s ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ Is A Worthy Follow-Up to Hill House.

Many of the main characters, living or dead, suffer traumatic events ranging from losing loved ones at a very young age, coping with immense guilt, or trying to understand that you are locked in purgatory.

Not everyone can relate to sharing their home with benevolent or malignant spirits, but everyone can relate to dealing with some type of inner turmoil.

In addition to using the emotional tactic of giving viewers something to relate to, Flanagan also uses romance as a tactic of creating a different type of horror genre. 

Love and romance are ever-present in the story of Bly Manor going back centuries to reveal the story of the mysterious Lady in the Lake’s, to Rebecca Jessel’s and Peter Quint’s love ended by tragedy or Dani’s and Jaime’s unexpected flame. 

the true beginning of a ghost story is a kiss, and not a haunting, because to love means eventually to mourn,” as mentioned in Joshua Rivera’s article on The Verge

While at first, it seems odd to place romance in the midst of a paranormal story, it plays an essential part in showing how Bly Manor is more about the individual horrors and tragedies they face in a metaphorical and witty way. 

A common theme used in horror genres is using drama and suspense throughout the plot to keep viewers constantly thinking of what, why, and how the ominous paranormal activity started. This is normally explained towards the end is a tactic used in Bly Manor.

Watching the show, viewers are given little clues and hints that are either secretly placed into scenes or blatantly given to creating suspense and questions that won’t be answered till the end.

The show used suspense tactics like moving figures in the background that characters are often oblivious to like a man wearing a Black Plague mask, or what seems to be a child camouflaging amongst some creepy dolls.

Besides the typical dramatic irony used when hiding figures in some scenes their other episodes are dedicated to going back and forth from past to present to further develop the storyline. Although watchers may enjoy a good back and forth plot, at times the way Flanagan decided to go about it to achieve suspense, often leaves some watchers confused and frustrated, wanting to get to the point as soon as possible. 

Despite this, the watchers should understand that going back and forth is an important part of telling the story entailed in Bly Manor so it was easy to get over and finish a great sequel to the Haunting anthology.

By using emotional values like loss, individual struggle, with love and blending that with the paranormal, drama, and suspense, Mike Flanagan is paving a new way of horror by giving viewers the beautifully created sequel, The Haunting of Bly Manor.