The Haunting of Bly Manor review: Not scary, but the gothic storyline is unsettling

The story

Dani Clayton, a young American au pair, sets off to Bly to start life anew. The past may have jarred scars on her, but the future seems equally terrifying. Will she make it out alive in the doomed manor? As the show suggests, “Dead doesn’t mean gone.”

The review

Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) is a wide-eyed American who jumps at the possibility of relocating to Bly, provided she bags the job of an au pair. Miss Clayton lands the job, much to her delight. But, here’s a catch: Her recruiter Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) warns her from reporting anything about what happens at the Manor during her stay. Fair enough, Dani assumes. Yet, things seem far from what she expects — and it’s far from perfectly splendid.

The idyllic village located in rural England feels surreal to Dani. And so do the days forward as the nanny to two wealthy orphaned kids Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and Flora Wingrave (Amelie Smith). The seemingly affable kids however are far from the normal kids their age. While Miles is back at the countryside estate after being expelled from school, his sister Flora concocts a world of her own with a set of (Voodoo-like) dolls that are fashioned in the images of the dead and currently alive family members. Things, albeit beautiful, seem off right from the start — Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller), the housekeeper, is visibly putting on a brave front, while the cook Owen Sharma and gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve) seem to have depressing views about the picturesque Manor.

Inspired from the novella “The Turn of The Screw”, the first episode gives away a few pointers into the show’s coming attractions — if only one care to pay attention. What exactly led to the deaths of the Wingraves? Was Dani’s predecessor Rebecca Jessel’s (Tahirah Sharif) accidental drowning in the lake really accidental? Why does Hannah’s blood boil at the very mention of Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen)? Did he really get away with more than just Swindling the Wingraves’ assets worthy of millions of dollars?

And lastly, what’s the harrowing secret between uncle Henry and his older brother’s wife? Lastly, why does a ghost from Dani’s past continue to linger long after its all over? Bly leaves one with too many questions, and sadly very little answers.

Simply put, the Bly Manor is a grave of unrest, with murky secrets buried deep within its walls. The characters have a rough past, and if that’s not haunting enough, the eerie twists and a dizzying maze of memories in the form of flashbacks continue to linger on. An unusual love affair blooms between Jamie and the young Au pair, and the same-sex romance is aesthetically portrayed. So much so, one feels that true love is indeed rooted in unflinchingly loyal friendship.

The show is far from heart-wrenchingly scary. In fact, it isn’t scary in the slightest. But, the gothic storyline does leave an unsettling feeling nevertheless.

Title: The Haunting of Bly Manor

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas

Platform: Netflix

Rating: 3.5/5

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