Mike Flanagan has established himself as one of the top writer-directors currently working in the horror genre, thanks to such well-received films as Before I Wake, Oculus, and a pair of Stephen King adaptations, Gerald's Game and Doctor Sleep. He's perhaps best known to fright fans for his 2018 Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, a brilliant re-interpretation of Shirley Jackson's novel, which took that classic ghost story into some new and surprising directions, while remaining true to the spirit of the original. His newest project, The Haunting of Bly Manor, is an update of the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw, which has been adapted for the big and small screen many times before, most notably as the 1961 thriller The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr and Peter Wyngarde. It was also featured on the big screen earlier this year in a version called The Turning, directed by Floria Sigismondi, which starred Mackenzie Davis.
Flanagan's version takes place primarily in 1987, when Dani Clayton, an American living in London, is hired as the new governess for two orphaned children, Miles and Flora Wingrave, who live at a house called Bly Manor. It turns out there are eerie things happening at the manor, and the children seem to know more about what's going on than the adults. Dani brings the ghosts of her own past with her to the house, and the rest of the staff, including Mrs. Gose, the housekeeper, and the Owen, the cook, have their own secrets to contend with as well. But the most intense and powerful supernatural entities at the manor seem focused on the children. What is the secret of Bly Manor? Why are the children so intensely involved with what's going on? One thing is certain; Dani will have to face her own demons before she can help the children with theirs.
The cast is superb, with several veterans of Flanagan's previous series and films appearing in the show, including Victoria Pedretti, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino and Kate Siegel. T'Nia Miller as Mrs. Gose, and Rahul Koli as Owen are excellent in their roles, especially in the amazing fifth episode of the series; no spoilers here, but the Hannah Gose centered story may be the series' best entry, and that's saying a lot as the show is consistently well-acted, well-written and well-directed. The Haunting of Bly Manor is a deeply emotional, powerful tale that is as heart-rending as it is chilling. The hauntings in this story are as internal as they are external. One character remarks that this isn't a "ghost story, it's a love story." I disagree, this fantastic series is a ghost story and a love story, and it succeeds admirably on both counts. If you're a fan of supernatural tales with a healthy does of heart and emotion, head over to Netflix and seek out The Haunting of Bly Manor. Highly recommended for viewing during Halloween season, or any season of the year. Here's a link to the trailer for the series : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2y0qSYf578.