I was more than impressed by Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix because beyond being wildly entertaining, it’s an exemplar on how horror can be more than what people typically expect of it, which is to say entertainment that’s well-acted, well-written and visually beautiful.
And that’s not at all unusual if you’ve seen things like Pan’s Labyrinth or The Babadook though most people associate horror with things like Friday the 13th or Halloween.
And that’s cool, but very, very limiting.
The Haunting of Hill House set the bar particularly high, so high in fact that I wouldn’t have at all been shocked if The Haunting of Bly Manor fell short of the mark.
And that’s okay because even if it had fallen short it would likely have still been pretty good. After all, The Empire Strikes Back is awesome, while Return of the Jedi? Not so much. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t Empire, that’s for sure.
I needn’t have worried because The Haunting of Bly Manor was pretty damn good and even more poignant than the first season.
The Haunting of Hill House was based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, while The Haunting of Bly Manor was based on the Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
The literary basis of this series is important because both seasons feel faithful to the material – which I haven’t read – while expanding upon the story in ways that don’t feel gratuitous or like padding (a problem not unusual for a Netflix series, particularly their past adaptions of Marvel movies).
And it’s just beautiful and touching in ways you don’t typically see in the horror space, though if you’ve seen Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak it fits firmly into that ‘Gothic Romance’ arena.
In fact, both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor are so good that they make me want to read the novels that they’re based on, which is a commentary on the quality of this series.