The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor ★★★★½

It's you. It's me. It's us.

When there is a young, blonde girl named Dani in a horror story, you know things are about to get very disturbing.

Victoria Pedretti leads this time and she is great as the kind person who only wants to help. There's so many similarities between Dani and Nelle Crain but Pedretti makes the two feel very different. Still, it's the supporting actors who steal the show. Carla Gugino actually opens the series and is so mysterious from the start and delivers wonderful performance in the finale. I was really surprised to see who Kate Siegel turned out to be playing, but I shouldn't have been - it makes perfect sense that Flanagan would give his wife such a pivotal part to play. Oliver Jackson-Cohen is a villain this time around and he does an amazing job.

In terms of location Bly Manor is absolutely striking, and this time the ghosts also have a lake to play in. I really liked how the people employed in the manor were actually nice - usually when someone is greeted at the house the person in charge is either creepy or deeply unpleasant but here, Mrs. Grose, played by the series newcomer T'Nia Miller, had such a warm, welcoming presence. Rahul Kohli and Amelia Eve gave lovely performances as the cook and the gardener of the manor respectively and played such likable characters. Like with Hill House you really don't want these people to get hurt and keep rooting for them. I imagine all of those actors will be getting so many offers after this show. Also, and this is not a joke, Greg Sestero is in this.

While Hill House's weakest point was the ending, Bly Manor shines here, with the last shot being so subtle and incredible. The beginning of the series is s bit slower, some of the things that happen are a bit obvious and the hidden ghosts are easier to spot - to be fair that's because the one wears very distinctive plague mask - but around episode 4 the series really picks up . Again its the 5th episode that provides the first real shock and Flanagan does so with similar plot device, but one different enough from other things you might have seen elsewhere to be considered unique. I admire Flanagan's audacity not only to do that and in the same spot in the series as he did the last time but to also feature a shall we say, a bent neck. I had no idea where things will go after that episode and every single following one was excellent, with episode 8 being very unique and a standout. I think everyone is going to be talking about that episode this weekend. And about that finale too.

While the jump scares and horror elements are a bit less horrific this time around, some of the things in the new series reminded me of Lynch, so that's only a plus. The music this season is very similar to the last one but even more gorgeous and it really adds so much to the beautiful, emotional story. There's a depiction of afterlife here that is absolutely terrifying and unlike anything I've seen elsewhere, even though it makes a perfect sense to portray it like that. It alludes to a disease they actually mention in the show and it's such a good metaphor, that is also well used in finale. And yes, you will cry so many times during this. It's a love story, not a ghost story. But truly....what's the difference?

Best 2020 release so far. Perfectly splendid.

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