Well, it turns out that spooky season was the perfect moment to release The Haunting of Bly Manor, the second “Haunting” anthology following up Hill House last year.
The series has been on top of Netflix’s Top 10 list for a week straight now, and seems to show no signs of letting up any time soon as other comers like Emily in Paris and the final season of Schitt’s Creek can’t catch it.
Bly Manor has scored a bit lower than Hill House across critical metrics, 93% versus 86% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, 91% down to 67% among fans there, though most of the complaints I see are about the accents being used on the show? Odd, but okay.
Bly Manor has strengthened already strong positions for two key figures in the Netflix ecosystem: Mike Flanagan, the creator of both series who should now effectively have a blank check to do whatever he wants with the success of both of these shows, and actress Victoria Pedretti, who had a smaller part as one of the siblings (the dead one) in The Haunting of Hill House, but arrived in a big way in You season 2, the series Netflix took over from Lifetime. Now here she’s the central star and stands alongside Millie Bobbie Brown and Henry Cavill as one of Netflix’s most recognizable faces across three of its most popular shows.
In my review I did say that I liked The Haunting of Hill House better than Bly Manor, but that’s a high bar because I actually consider Hill House Netflix’s best original series, and Bly Manor is still very, very good, shifting its focus to a love story instead of one purely about family. As I’ve said before, Flanagan has created almost a new genre of “uplifting” horror here, if that makes sense. These “Haunting” series do have their jump scares to be sure, but usually no more than 1-2 an entire season, and it’s less about being unsettling and awful and more about human connection as told through the medium of the spirit world. And man, it really, really works.
Even before the success of Bly Manor, Mike Flanagan signed an overall deal with Netflix back in 2019. Flanagan also directed Gerald’s Game with Carla Gugino, who also appears in both Haunting productions, and in theaters he did Doctor Sleep, the Shining sequel, which I did not particularly like, despite his other work being so solid.
Flanagan’s next project does not appear to be another Haunting, not yet at least, but instead Midnight Mass, where he reunites with his Haunting cohort Trevor Macy for a seven episode series about an isolated island community that experiences miraculous events. No, this is not The Third Day on HBO Max. This was again, reported in 2019, so it may have been pushed back due to COVID, so if we are going to get a third Haunting outing, it will likely not be for probably at least 1.5-2 more years, I would guess.
For now, enjoy the two we have, some of the best horror ever put on TV.