The Haunting of Bly Manor begins at a wedding dinner at Northern California in 2007, where everyone’s telling stories afterwards, with one woman saying she has a ghost story to tell, and it’s not a short one…
Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti – Amazing Stories: The Cellar, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood) applies to be an au pair to the niece and nephew of Lord Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas – yes, he who came to the fore in 1983’s E.T., and most recently took the role of Jack Torrence in The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep). Her job will involve tutoring both Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), the latter of whom was sent home from boarding school, for reasons which will become clear in due course.
Bly Manor is where she must tutor them because that’s where they spent summers with their parents who have since passed away. Henry wonders why she would be applying for a full time live-in position when she’s a young woman, but she notes that the ad has been available for 6 months since she came to the UK, so it’s clearly an easy position to fill.
Henry clearly likes a drink, and tells her how the children need tuition and sound unruly, but they can’t be a handful, surely, given how they act very prim and proper, as if it’s a modern day Mary Poppins. And what happened to their previous tutor who wasn’t in the job long? Ah, all questions that will be answered in due course…
But it’s not long before things go bump in the night, since Dani, a former teacher, keeps seeing a man all in silhouette, with bright, shining eyes. Meanwhile, there’s a moment where Flora is looking at someone in the background, yet Dani can’t see anyone… at first.
Meanwhile, Flora has a doll with no eyes must stay on the floor, under a cupboard; She also tells Dani that she must stay in her room all night on her first night in the house; plus, Dani can’t make tea… no mystery in that one – she’s American, so doesn’t drink tea. But then for me, no-one can make a decent brew, apart from myself.
Joining Dani in the running of the house is cook Owen (Rahul Kohli), gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve) and cleaner Hannah (T’Nia Miller – Years And Years), the latter of whom never seems to eat anything.
So far, in a house where there’s a lot of things that go bump in the night, I’ve seen two episodes at this point, the latter of which has a scene where Dani has to go into the cellar where the light doesn’t work… making me realise that most people would be sensible and get their phone because it has a torch! Also, at one point she plays a game of hide and seek with the kids. If I was her, I’d leave them for about six hours. Get some peace and quiet!
Quite frankly, you can tell these kids are going to be little shits just by looking at them… or are they? Maybe they’re just a bit odd? Well, you’ll have nine episodes in which to make up your mind.
This series comes from the makers of The Haunting Of Hill House, which I never saw, but I understand this is an entirely separate story from that, and based on Henry James‘ The Turning Of The Screw. That also inspired an early 2020 film, The Turning. That looked awful, but I’m enjoying this Netflix production so far.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Friday October 9th.
Episodes 1 and 2 Score: 7/10
Series Directors: Ciarán Foy, Axelle Carolyn, Mike Flanagan, Liam Gavin, Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Producer: Kathy Gilroy
Writer/Creator: Mike Flanagan
Novel: Henry James (The Turning Of The Screw)
Music: The Newton Brothers
Dani Clayton: Victoria Pedretti
Flora Wingrave: Amelie Bea Smith
Miles Wingrave: Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
Hannah Grose: T’Nia Miller
Owen: Rahul Kohli
Henry Wingrave: Henry Thomas
Miss Jessel: Tahirah Sharif
Mike: Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
Soldier Ghost: Andrew Neil McKenzie
Jamie: Amelia Eve
Peter Quint: Oliver Jackson-Cohen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.