Let’s get one thing clear: This post contains spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor!
If you haven’t watched the new horror anthology from Mike Flanagan and want to go in fresh, turn back now. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to watch, but still want to be part of the conversation, then proceed. But seriously, you should give this one a chance. It’s a good example of “horror for people who don’t like horror.”
Details You Might Have Missed
One of the best parts about rewatching Hill House is finding all the details you didn’t catch the first time. Bly Manor follows the same formula, filling every episode with Easter eggs and–yes–hidden ghosts.
As a big fan of the original Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, I was… cautiously optimistic about how Flanagan & co. would handle this adaptation. The Haunting of Hill House frequently went off-book, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse (by which I mean that the ending still rankles two years later).
What I did not expect is that Bly Manor would be an anthology of stories, interconnected by a shared space, inspired by the Victorian author’s works. In fact, each episode title shares its name with a tale by Henry James. Those episode titles were kept under wraps until the series premiered to maintain the mystery.
There are nods to other horror classics throughout the series, such as the number “217” on the door of Dani’s room at the hostel. That is, of course, the infamous room in the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining.
If you look closely, you’ll see the ghost of the soldier in multiple scenes throughout the series. Uncle Henry says this figure is his imaginary friend, but during a rewatch you’ll find the figure in multiple scenes across the different eras.
Like Hill House, there are hidden ghosts lurking in almost every scene of Bly Manor. Depending on what personally creeps you out the most, you’ll probably have nightmares about the doll-faced ghost or the plague doctor. But there are many more scattered throughout the manor. However, cinematographer James Kniest said that the ghosts didn’t quite turn out the way they’d hoped because of filming limitations during the pandemic.
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“That may or may not play a role in how much you can see into the shadows and see the ghosts,” he added. “I think that it just evolved organically to a point where they have just appeared a little bit farther into the recesses of the manor. They are there.”
If you’re not sure where to find the ghosts, check Flora’s dollhouse. Mike Flanagan called it the team’s “Marauder’s Map,” referencing the enchanted map in Harry Potter that shows where everyone is in Hogwarts Castle.
Callbacks to ‘Hill House’
Although Bly Manor is completely disconnected from the Hill House universe, there are still quite a few callbacks to the first series. Some of them are pretty obvious, while others only die-hard fans will catch.
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The eerie welcome of “You’re expected” is echoed in both series. The first time we heard it was when Olivia Cran’s ghost said it to her adult daughter, Nell, in the best episode of the series: “The Bent-Neck Lady.” In Bly Manor, Flora says it to Dani when she arrives.
The words “come home” also have a sinister significance in both series. In Hill House, the words are scrawled underneath the wallpaper (eventually being revealed as the message “welcome home, Nell.”) In Bly Manor, Flora sends the words to her brother, Miles, when he’s away at boarding school. The childish scrawl is almost identical to the handwriting in the first series.
The callback everyone is talking about, though, is the “confetti” scene. In the first series, Nell poignantly describes the moments that “fall around us like rain, or snow, or confetti.” In Bly Manor, when Hannah and Owen are talking for the last time, she says, “and the rest is just…”
The audience can fill in the blank here with the word “confetti,” connecting the themes of the two series with a single word. Neat, huh?
The main cast, including Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Amelia Eve, and T’Nia Miller, spilled all kinds of on-set tea to Buzzfeed recently.
They revealed that each floor of the house had its own set, letting the actors walk around as if they were really in Bly Manor. As for the exterior shots? That’s a real house… and it’s right next door to a cannabis farm.
T’Nia Miller confessed that she had not read the entire script before she started filming. If she had… she would have realized that her character was dead the whole time. Miller took some souvenirs from the set–namely, a pair or two of the iconic earrings from her costuming.
And when Peter was controlling Miles, actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen helped his young costar Benjamin Evan Ainsworth by recording the dialogue as Peter beforehand. Jackson-Cohen also stayed on set to support Ainsworth during those tough scenes.
Netflix via GIPHY
Okay, one more surprise: Amelia Eve didn’t know that Carla Gugino would be playing an older version of her character. She hoped to have the chance to work with the Hill House star but had no clue that they’d be so closely connected.
Will There Be a Third Season?
Considering that Bly Manor is currently the third most popular title on IMDb right now, as well as the top show in Netflix’s daily rankings, we can say with certainty that people are watching it. Netflix doesn’t release viewership numbers the way networks do. Nor are they subject to public box office numbers the way film studios are. Instead, we just have to take their word for it that a show is a success.Seriously, you should give this one a chance. Bly Manor is a good example of "horror for people who don't like horror". #PopTonicTV Click To Tweet
All that being said, it seems extremely likely that Netflix will greenlight another season of the horror anthology show in the future. Many of the stars have already gone on record as being eager to work with Flanagan again. In the meantime, he and real-life wife and muse Katie Siegel are teaming up for Midnight Mass, a spooky original series for Netflix.