Happy almost Halloween! I’m back with another spooky review, this one of a TV show on Netflix: “The Haunting of Bly Manor”. Since I can’t seem to actively write a review for a TV show or movie without spoilers here’s your warning: spoilers for the entire season of “The Haunting of Bly Manor”.
Josie and I were so excited when the trailer for this dropped. The cinematography and storytelling of “The Haunting of Hill House” were so enchanting that we were thrilled they were coming out with a new one with a different story. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is somehow the same things you love about “Hill House”, but also a totally different beast.
Hill House vs. Bly Manor
The concept of having a house be a character is something I’m really in to. With my favorite horror movie being “Steven King’s Rose Red” I really like the concept that houses can have their own personalities. The production team carried over the concept from “Hill House” to “Bly Manor” perfectly but the houses had very different characters. In Hill House, the haunting was very focused on the family and followed them throughout their lives. In Bly Manor, the haunting was within the house and tied closely to historical events and the pain of Viola, The Lady in the Lake.
The other thing to look out for that’s similar to “The Haunting of Hill House” is the use of the background. I want to watch both of these series over several times just to play spot the ghosts in the background of scenes. I started out doing really well picking out each hidden ghost with my fiancée like looking for hidden Mickeys at Disney but as the story got more in-depth we began to miss a few as we paid more attention to the characters.
My One Issue
My one complaint about this show was the two episodes in the middle that diverged from the original storyline. I feel like a lot of shows do this now with the rise of streaming and binge-watching. The infamous episode where Eleven goes to Chicago in “Stranger Things”: Season 2 comes to mind. Most recently, “Lovecraft Country” had a few, as well. I’m not a fan of this technique even if we’re able to jump right back in when the flashbacks or second storyline ends. I’d much rather have those pieces mixed in between the main storyline to build suspense.
I think the one with Hannah really irked me the most. They’d been dropping hints about what was happening with her character for episodes and then gave us an info dump. It broke the suspense too early and I wish they had spaced it out with the regular storyline for a few episodes instead of telling us her entire back story in one episode. I’m confused why they made this particular decision here, as”Hill House” did this really well.
This is Not a “Kill Your Gays” Situation
The part I loved, as you can probably guess, was Dani and Jamie. While I can understand why some people might think this fits under a “kill your gays” trope, I would highly disagree. I was enchanted by gothic ghost stories as a kid. My favorites were always the ones where lovers died tragically and they stayed together as ghosts. So to see myself represented in a gothic romance (set in the ’80s!!!) was amazing.
There are a few reasons why I think this doesn’t fall under a “kill your gays” trope problem. First, they aren’t side characters. Dani is the main character this is her story even if it’s told by Jamie. “Kill your gays” usually makes token side characters their victims. Two, the writers game them a healthy relationship. I’ve never wanted to own a plant shop in my life, but here we are. Dani and Jamie’s relationship is incredibly heartfelt and healthy for the unique and tragic circumstances they find themselves in. We’re shown an actual healthy queer relationship in the final episode before Dani ultimately ends the curse with love. Three, the strength Dani had to end the mansion’s curse came from Jamie. She had all this love that when she took Viola’s place she was at peace and not angry.
Overall, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” was an amazing gothic queer love story. It’s haunting and beautiful in the way I like my love stories to be told. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves queer stories, gothic romance, or haunting ghost stories. 5/5 stars.
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