Mike Flanagan is arguably the hottest filmmaker in Hollywood when it comes to the horror genre. His work on feature films like Gerald’s Game and the massively underappreciated Doctor Sleep – an actual worthy sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – has marked him as a serious talent, but it’s arguably what he did with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House adaptation that really proved him to be a master of terror. That loose adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror novel was so successful, that it prompted Netflix to greenlight a follow-up and that’s what brings us to The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Not a direct sequel – even though some of the Hill House cast is returning – Bly Manor is the next chapter in what has become an anthology series. And for this new story, just like they did with Hill House, Flanagan and producing partner Trevor Macy took one novel – in this case, Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw – and adapted it as the base story while also pulling elements of James’ other stories like The Jolly Corner and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, who dropped the first look at the upcoming series last week, Flanagan explained the approach.
The process is the same, in that it’s a literary remix. You want to update the story, you want to find whatever fertile ground for elevating the character that you can in the source material, but we obviously took some liberties in updating it with a more modern setting.
Modern update or not, The Haunting of Bly Manor still has those classic haunted house chills and thrills if the first teaser trailer is anything to go by. Check it out below.
Little girls and creepy dolls. All we need now is a psychotic clown to complete the horror trifecta.
Of course, one thing that made Hill House stand out so much (I mean, besides for that one jaw-dropping single-take episode that played out across multiple timelines simultaneously that was a pure marvel of filmmaking) was that it wasn’t just great horror. There was a fair bit of really good family drama as well that underpinned it all, making us care about these characters enough that when they got into spooky situations, it ratcheted up our tension even further. And with Bly Manor, we go from a broken family to “broken hearts that never heal and tragic star-crossed romance”.
It certainly provides a new way to tell a love story, and there are three of them that really beat at the heart of this season. They all have a very dark edge to them. And by the end, it’s really hard to differentiate tragedy with romance. That sense of romantic longing for someone who meant so much to us—but who’s gone—really is the heart of any ghost story.
You can check out the rest of the Vanity Fair article for some further insights into the characters played by the new and returning cast, and also why the hell Flanagan and co had to bring in dolls. Creepy, creepy dolls. In the meantime, we also some deceptively peaceful pics to go along with that trailer.
The Haunting of Bly Manor stars Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Amelie Smith, and Amelia Eve. It is scheduled for release on 9 October 2020.
Last Updated: September 1, 2020