Film in review: “The Haunting of Bly Manor”


The Winonan’s film reporter rates “The Haunting of Bly Manor” 4.5/5.

Noah Mruz, Film Reviewer

Haunting is defined as “poignant and evocative; difficult to ignore or forget.” Haunting is not inherently negative or ghastly, but something nearly impossible to ignore.
Netflix’s series “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is a chilling yet heartfelt journey of an American woman who becomes an au pair to two British children at their manor in Bly. This woman, Dani Clayton, meets those who maintain the manor; Owen, the chef, Hannah, the maid and Jamie, the gardener. Though this crew is welcoming, it’s the ghosts she must worry about, as well as the secrets the children are hiding. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” masterfully builds suspense, balancing horror and heart with its wonderful cast and compelling story.
Suspense can be difficult to pull off, yet there are commonalities in every suspenseful moment in horror: little to no music, dim lighting and a viewer understanding the stakes lacked by the character. One mistake bad horror often makes is throwing suspenseful moments around. Suspense needs to be earned, not thrown around wherever. That is one element “The Haunting of Bly Manor” does masterfully.
One downfall of the show is the amount of information given. Although all of this information is helpful, at times it feels like too much of a sidebar away from the main story. Yes, I want to know what happened between point A and B, but I do not need to know every granular detail between. These long moments away from the main story also made some plot twists predictable.
At times I forgot I was watching a scary show, which I was slightly thankful for, but that could lose some viewers. If you ever find yourself in that spot, stick around. The cast and story are what truly drive this series. Each character feels expertly cast in this. There is nothing worse in a horror movie than someone who does not fit, taking your attention away from fear.
The two children play their parts excellently, and are equally funny and heartfelt, as is most of the cast. Owen, played by Raul Kohli, does an excellent job of bringing some of the best laughs but some of the most gut-wrenching and sorrow-filled speeches in the series. The bonds and relationships between characters are truly believable and help create a story that will make you laugh, fear, cry and cheer.
To talk about any specific moment would be disrespectful to the wonderful story showcased, and to the hard work that these actors put into bringing such a wonderful story to life.
I am not a fan of horror movies. Creepy children? Thanks, but no thanks. The film must interest me on its premise or my friends have to go see it and I will join. Some of my favorite films are technically horror, but not made in the last decade. Recent horror movies have become half-baked jump-scares and “shocking” deaths, as if the how of the character‘s death is written before the why. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is a clear exception to this trend.
I truly enjoyed this series despite its spooks and suspense, even as someone who does not gravitate toward this genre. I was surprised to cry, laugh and love something I do not normally enjoy. Although Halloween is now just behind us, take a moment to enjoy “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” though I am not sure I would call it a horror series. I am giving “The Haunting of Bly Manor” a 4.5 out of 5 stars for its excellent story, cast, and the way it builds suspense, with a half star off for the moments where too much story is given.