One of the only good things to come out of 2020: The second season of hit Netflix show The Haunting of Hill House, this one called The Haunting of Bly Manor and based on the work of Henry James. It’ll come almost exactly two years after the first season, with a release date scheduled for Oct 9, 2020 on Netflix. While it feels like forever since we’ve had a good scare dealing with the Crain family’s antics, we’re finally close to revisiting our favorite dysfunctional, haunted group of actors. (Well, some of them—more on that in a minute.)
When the first season of the show dropped on Netflix, it was an instant hit. Critics praised it for “blending incredibly smart family drama with some of the most terrifying imagery you’ve seen in a very long time” and serving as “a story of repressed trauma and family discord.” For season two, we do have some exciting details about what to expect, and we gotta warn you—things will be totally different this time around.
Update, 10/14: If you’re finished Bly Manor, we go deep into that ending here, and we spoke to the cast about the details you missed here.
Does Bly Manor have a trailer?
On Sept. 23, Netflix released a longer trailer, which is—surprise!—super creepy.
We have a poster, which also shows a woman coming out of a lake:
And we have a bunch of preview photos:
What is Bly Manor based on?
Yes, my die-hard fans, it’s time to say goodbye to the Crain family. The first season was an adaption of the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel of the same name that featured a family who grew up in a haunted house and were forced to confront ghosts from their past—in every sense—when their youngest sister, Nell, committed suicide.
The Haunting of Bly Mansion will be inspired by Henry James’ 1898 short novel, The Turn of the Screw. The book is set in an old country England mansion in the 1980s. The plot: Two young orphans are cared for by a young governess, who narrates the story—and, well, things get creepy. Flanagan and producing partner Trevor Macy also brought aspects from two other famous supernatural stories by James, The Jolly Corner, a ghost story of sorts, and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes, about a mysterious chest of dresses shared between two sisters.
The series description says Bly Manor is “set in 1980s England.” (Worth noting here that The Turn of the Screw is 1800s-era, so it’s a modern adaptation.) “After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry Wingrave hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with the estate’s chef Owen, groundskeeper Jamie and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. But all is not as it seems at the manor, and centuries of dark secrets of love and loss are waiting to be unearthed in this chilling gothic romance. At Bly Manor, dead doesn’t mean gone.”
Who’s in The Haunting of Bly Manor?
Returning favorites include Henry Thomas, who played young Hugh Crain, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who took on the role of Luke Crain, and fan-favorite Kate Siegel, who is known for her iconic one-liners in the part of Theodora Crain. Victoria Pedretti is also returning to the series (as a blonde this time!).
Pedretti, according to an interview Flanagan did with The Wrap, will play the governess—one “who takes care of two very unusual children,” he said. As for Miles and Flora: The new kids on the block (literally) are Benjamin Ainsworth and Amelie Smith, who will play the two orphans. They’ll be accompanied by Rahul Kohli from the CW’s Supergirl who will play the resident chef Owen. T’Nia Miller from HBO’s Years and Years will play the housekeeper of Bly Manor. Newcomers Amelia Eve and Catherine Parker will also join the cast.
What do the reviews say about Bly Manor?
Plenty of reviews are comparing Bly Manor to its predecessor Hill House and noting that this season is measurably less scary than the last—but doubles down on the psychological and symbolic meaning that made Hill House so watchable. Described by many reviewers as uneven but nevertheless unsettling, early watchers of the series have noted that it’s more of a love story than a ghost story—that isn’t a spoiler, exactly; a character in the series says so specifically—and, as Vulture notes, is driven by the emotion of guilt rather than grief.
The child actors get almost universal acclaim; both Benjamin Ainsworth and Amelie Smith, who play Miles and Flora, are unnerving but also believable. But unlike Hill House, which was based on a single narrative, Bly Manor weaves together numerous narratives in a way that can feel confusing and overwhelming. Yet, the visual imagery—the physical appearances of who haunt the manor, in their various incarnations—is genuinely bone-chilling, and will haunt you long after watching. If it lacks the emotional depth of Hill House, it’s still well worth watching.