The Haunting of Bly Manor wastes no time before it gets to the haunting In the first few minutes of the series – long before we lay eyes on Bly Manor itself – we get our first glimpse of the ghost that haunts our protagonist, Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti): a weird, dark figure with yellow lights for her eyes, staring at her from the reflection in the window of a passing car
And while it’s a bit too early in the season to start pitching theories, I think there’s a clue here Long before The Haunting of Bly Manor opened the front door of her majestic titular English country house, we learn Dani is already haunted All that awaits her inside Bly Manor, she brings her own ghosts with her
From the start, Bly Manor signals that the season will be plagued by the tragedies of the past.The series premiered in 2007 at an allegedly haunted castle in northern California, where a group of guests drink on the eve of the wedding of a young couple (I’m not sure why these revelers all agree that they want to hear a ghost story, even though Carla Gugino is the one offering to tell it)
And with that, Bly Manor left for London in 1987, where we are quickly introduced to American Expat Dani who is in no rush to return to her home country, she jumps at the opportunity to be in pair in residence for a couple of orphaned children in a mansion in the English countryside
The two children are theoretically in the care of their uncle, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas), but you don’t get the impression that he is interested in this position Dani, on the other hand, seems to view caring for them as a privilege and a moral duty.In an emotional monologue, she describes how she gave up her job as a teacher because she couldn’t make a difference for the 25 children in her. class, no matter how much she loved them However, she is convinced that she can do it with these two
After a bit of hemming and hawing Dani gets the job and she’s on her way to Bly Manor But the purity of her motives remains an open question She is clearly running away from something, and you might think that a job at full time in a distant old house would be enough to keep her safe – but her habit of obsessively covering every reflective surface in a room with a fabric screen certainly implies that all the hunting is never far behind
At Bly Manor, Dani meets the rest of the skeleton staff in charge of the place: Owen, the cook (Rahul Kohli); Jamie, the babysitter (Amelia Eve); and Hannah Grose, the housekeeper (T’Nia Miller) But much of the episode focuses on the children themselves.This is The Haunting of Bly Manor’s big bet – can he find two child actors who can the nuance and ambiguity needed to make every aspect of this story work?
After an episode, I am very confident to say: maybe! Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), 10, is polite but brooding, and he was kicked out of his boarding school under murky circumstances He appears to be testing Dani – handing him both a butterfly hairpin and a spider in an attempt to assess how she will react to kindness or cruelty Her sister, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith), 8, is rather precocious and cheerful She also has her own eerie qualities, including a fondness for creepy dolls and a tendency to seek advice from Miss Jessel, who is either an imaginary friend. , be a ghost
What is it? At the end of the episode, this remains another extremely open-ended question towards the end, Hannah sketches in a vague real-life biography of Miss Jessel, who was Miles and Flora’s previous au pair until – after a bad encounter with a man – she enters a pond and drowns Flora has found Jessel’s corpse, and it’s unclear how and when this type of trauma can manifest itself. But just when you might be inclined to write the whole ‘imaginary friend Jessel’ stuff down as a mechanism for adaptation, Dani spots another mysterious figure – a strange man frowning at her from a balcony in a dusty wing of the house that’s supposed to be sealed up
Yes, something’s wrong with Bly So when Miles and Flora lock Dani in a closet at the end of the episode, is it a childish prank gone wrong or something more sinister? Was Dani’s panic attack and breakdown due to a ghost she can see in the mirror or her belief that she can see a ghost in the mirror?
Perhaps the real question is: does it matter? During her monologue in the small chapel of the mansion, Hannah’s speech is supported by a recurring musical motif from the score of Haunting of Hill House It is here that the link between these two ghost stories, separated at the same time by geography and time, finally becomes clear Ghost or not, everyone is haunted by something And whatever these houses bring to their residents, it will have to be taken care of
• Hidden Ghosts: I am by no means an expert ghost hunter, but I will do my best to spot those hidden in the background in Bly Manor (a tip that series creator Mike Flanagan has also used, with a brilliant effect, in The Haunting of Hill House) There is at least one ghost that appears multiple times in the premiere of Bly Manor, although I’m sure I haven’t caught it every time He looks like a plague doctor; at the very least he’s wearing a mask with a long hooked beak He turns around and looks at Dani on her midnight walk at 32:09 and in the hallway behind her at 50:02 He is also in the window behind Dani at 29:06 (You can even spotting him briefly in that Netflix promo video released ahead of the Bly Manor premiere; meet at 0:32 and look through the doorway to Dani’s left) As for what he’s doing there? I don’t know yet, but Flanagan has indicated that the hidden ghosts in Bly Manor will actually be story-related this time around, so keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned. And if you spot any ghosts I miss , share them in the comments below!
• If you are curious about Bly Manor’s source material and want to dig deeper, you have no shortage of options Besides Henry James’ original short story The Turn of the Screw, there are tons of options to choose from. explore You can ignore last year’s disappointing The Turning, but 1961’s The Innocents is a horror classic that hasn’t lost any of its power in the decades since its release And while the BBC’s 2009 adaptation isn’t a great one, Downton Abbey fans will be thrilled as she co-stars Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens
• The Turn of the Screw is short and ambiguous enough that a group of people made up their own riffs and extensions to the original story There is a surprisingly good 1971 prequel called The Nightcomers, which earned star Marlon Brando a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor There is a literary sequel that received mixed reception in 2012 and there is the Joyce Carol Oates story « Damn Dwellers of House Bly, » from the 1995 Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque collection. , which revisits the events of The Turn of the Screw from a very different angle
• Flanagan clearly intends to use Bly Manor to pay homage to previous adaptations of The Turn of the Screw, especially The Innocents, which he says is his favorite adaptation To that end: “O Willow Waly The song that opens Bly Manor is also sung by Flora in The Innocents And in James’ original, the housekeeper remains anonymous, but Bly Manor calls her Dani Clayton, an apparent tribute to Jack Clayton, director of The Innocent
• In The Turn of the Screw, Miles and Flora’s uncle is also anonymous Bly Manor gives him the name Wingrave, borrowed from another Henry James ghost story, « Owen Wingrave »
• The residents’ repeated insistence that Bly Manor is’ a very good place ‘is a tribute to another Henry James story. I love that it becomes less convincing every time someone says so – as if they all conspired to deploy the same oddly specific phrase in an effort to put Dani at ease
• The Marriage that opens the episode is a framing device half borrowed from The Turn of the Screw, in which the main story is told by a narrator on a Christmas party
• As Ryan Murphy did with American Horror Story, Flanagan treats his Haunting of [Insert Spooky House] series as an opportunity to place his favorite actors in different roles Hill House fans will recognize Gugino, Pedretti, Thomas and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in this one
• The Groom at the Wedding is played by none other than Greg Sestero, who starred in the legendary movie So Bad It’s Good The Room (and then co-wrote The Disaster Artist, a memoir on his experience as a filming it)
• Fixx song « One Thing Leads to Another » plays in the pub It was used in a memorable way in another horror story about a big scary house
• There’s something odd about the way the show goes from Owen picking up Dani in a car in London to Dani waking up in the backseat with Bly Manor on the horizon In this tight premiere, he seems like we are missing much of the story, which is only made more evident by the stark visual contrast between London and Bly Given Flanagan’s penchant for twisted timelines, maybe we’ll end up going back and seeing this piece of history through Owen’s eyes
• A hint from Flanagan to keep in mind as you watch the season: « The more a viewer focuses on Flora’s dollhouse, the more likely they are to see what’s going on and why »
• And finally, The Turn of the Screw is in the public domain, so you can read it all here anytime. That said, my friendly advice is to find the oldest, dustiest hard copy you can find , pour yourself a good glass of red wine and only read it after sunset
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