The Haunting Of Hill House was one of the most exciting horror events of 2018, and hopefully, The Haunting Of Bly Manor will be one of 2020’s.
Mike Flanagan managed to turn Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel into one of the most truly terrifying TV shows of all time, without letting the great story and unique characters slip in quality.
The phenomenal success of The Haunting Of Hill House meant a second season was quickly announced, but it was made clear from the start that it wouldn’t continue the story of the Crain family.
Instead, we’re being transported to the world of Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn Of The Screw, under the name The Haunting Of Bly Manor.
While there is no narrative connection between the seasons at all, much of the cast and crew are returning, so our expectations for a horror that grips its audience with both scares and story.
Here are six things we need from The Haunting Of Bly Manor if it is to live up to its predecessor.
We Need Very Different Characters in The Haunting of Bly Manor
With The Haunting Of Bly Manor taking on the anthology approach of American Horror Story, we should expect to see a lot of familiar faces.
Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen are already confirmed to be returning as central characters, while the roles of Henry Thomas and Kate Siegel are confirmed, but still under wraps.
Hill House stars Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino and Elizabeth Reaser haven’t been mentioned, so it’s safe to assume that they either won’t be present, or they’ll make minor cameos.
The fact that so many faces that we currently associate to season one are going to be back for season two means we’re going to need any connections severed immediately.
Pedretti and Jackson-Cohen, for example, played the tormented and scarred Nell and Luke in Hill House. In Bly Manor, we’re going to need to see a lot more stability and confidence.
Thomas and Siegel were protective and sassy respectively. If too much of these traits make their way into their Bly Manor characters, then it’ll be hard to separate them from Steven and Theo of Hill House.
Luckily, Pedretti landed a leading role in Netflix’s You since season one, and we already knew the extend of Thomas’ range (I mean, he was Elliot in E.T. after all), so their proven ranges should cover this.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor Needs More Ghosts!
The Haunting Of Hill House was so good at pushing horror right into your face that many viewers didn’t even notice the freaky things happening in the background.
Mike Flanagan made it his mission to hide ghosts throughout the Hill House for eagle-eyed viewers to spot.
For this season, he confirmed that not only will there be more hidden ghosts lurking in the background of shots, but they’ll have more meaning.
While it was interesting to go back and hunt for them, you could say that hiding ghosts throughout Hill House was just horror for horror’s sake. In Bly Manor, Flanagan says we’ll find out “who they are and why they’re there.”
This time we’ll be ready to scour the background of shots to find the remnants of the departed.
Use Other Henry James Stories
In The Haunting Of Hill House, the adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel was clear, but loose. The modernisation and deviation from the story worked perfectly.
As The Turn Of The Screw is a relatively short novella, fans wondered from the start whether Flanagan would add his own twists and turns.
He has since explained that he’ll be dipping in and out of the Henry James back-catalogue like a petrifying pick and mix.
He has named The Jolly Corner and The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes as two particular works he’ll be bringing into Bly Manor.
However, that leaves dozens more stories that we might see crop up, from the ghostly The Real Right Thing, to the existentialism of The Portrait Of A Lady.
Keep Things Forward-Thinking
Modern horror is often criticized for being uninspired and uninteresting. The truly unique horror films and shows are left to small budget studios and often go unappreciated.
Flanagan was given a huge platform with Hill House and used it to create something that pushed the envelope.
The critically acclaimed sixth episode, for example, was made to look like it was filmed in one take, despite moving between two different time periods.
At the same time, working in elements of regular, day to day life into the plot allowed us to get an insight into the characters that horror rarely allows these days.
Hopefully, Bly Manor doesn’t rest on its laurels and we continue to see an artistic, inventive approach.
Don’t Start Reverting To Horror Tropes
Mike Flanagan has recently emerged as a master of horror.
His Stephen King adaptations, Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep, managed to forge a chilling atmosphere while almost entirely avoiding overdone horror tropes.
The Haunting Of Hill House might have been set primarily in a haunted house and occasionally dropped a jump scare, but in general, Flanagan created tension and fear with more subtlety.
Hopefully, Bly Manor can keep this up. We don’t want to see him trying to play with things like the ‘jock’, ‘stoner’ and ‘nerd’ stereotypes, do we?
Maybe Give Us A Little More Explanation This Time?
Horror is the hardest place to formulate a satisfying ending. Remember when they tried to end The Conjuring 2 by having Lorraine Warren shout ‘Valak’ over and over again?
After ten hours of content, The Haunting Of Hill House manages to put together a rather brilliant conclusion. We find out what the Red Room is, what Hill House was doing for all these years, and why it was full of ghosts.
We don’t find out: why the house did what it did in the first place, who the ghosts lurking in the background were, and why the rest of the Crain family could continue their lives in peace afterwards.
While a level of ambiguity isn’t a bad thing to keep a hold of, maybe The Haunting Of Bly Manor will offer a little more explanation?
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