The Haunting of Hill House Explained
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Bye bye Hill House; hello Bly Manor.
The Haunting of Hill House was the breakout sensation of the spooky season last fall, and while we won’t be pulling a Nell Crain and return to titular malicious mansion, the show has been renewed for another season as an anthology on Netflix. For the second season, called The Haunting of Bly Manor, showrunner Mike Flanagan has decided to reinterpret Henry James’ 1898 horror novella The Turn of the Screw.
This means we might never find out the gory details about all those creepy ghosts floating around in The Haunting of Hill House — whatever was happening with Aunt Hazel and the little boy ghoul who banged on the walls still deserves a spin-off, though — but the good news is that the new story at hand for Season 2 is pretty wicked, too.
Mike Flanagan’s interpretation of Shirley Jackson’s classic novel was nothing short of sensational, so let’s break down a few things we can probably expect from his take on James’ novella, The Haunting of Bly Manor.
1. It’ll center on another haunted house, duh. It might go without saying, but the second season of the anthology series is also going to take place in a haunted house. Bly Manor is the name of the estate where the action takes place in Turn of the Screw, and, yes, it’s a sprawling palace filled with the same kind of eerie emptiness that made Hill House such a bedeviling place. Instead of Massachusetts, though, the home is in the quaint countryside outside London. Whether Flanagan will keep the same 19th century setting as the original remains to be seen, though.
2. There won’t be any loving parents in this home. Unlike Hill House, the parents in Turn of the Screw are completely absent from the picture. The two kids, Miles and Flora, have to move in with their estranged uncle after the death of their parents and they’re cared for by our protagonist, the governess, along with a housekeeper named Ms. Grose. There are potentially a pair of other people looking over the kids from another plane of existence, however.
3. Prepare for some more specter spotting. Much the way Hill House left us freezing every frame to see how many ghosts we could spot hidden in every shot, the ghosts in Turn of the Screw are similarly elusive. After spotting shadowy figures throughout the house, the governess eventually discovers that a pair of now-deceased house workers — the prior governess and a valet — used to care for the kids and may have been involved in Satanic rituals. She also begins to suspect they may or may not be sneaking around the manor to chat up the children… and possibly worse.
4. You may have to question the sanity of certain characters. One of the finest things about Hill House was how seamlessly it merged its paranormal elements with questions of psychology. You can choose to believe everything that happened to the Crains was exactly as they believed it was, or you can just as easily deduce that some of those battier experiences and character decisions were owed to the house’s hidden black mold or the characters’ waning mental wellness. It’s up to the audience to decide the true events of the story, and that’s exactly the same situation with our governess in Bly Manor. We won’t spoil what happens to her and the children in the book’s ending here, but suffice it to say that by stepping away from her viewpoint, one can surmise she is not of sound mind.
5. The atmosphere should be intense. James once described his story as highlighting “the strange and sinister embroidered on the very type of normal and easy,” which basically means he built the story to feel as real and possible as he could. One of the many strengths of Hill House was the way the set was designed to feel as though there were always eyes on the characters, and, based on James’ writing, we can expect a similar state of constant creepiness to loom over the events of the story.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is expected to drop on Netflix in 2020.
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