When it comes to horror on Netflix, few people boast a track record as good as Mike Flanagan – the man behind Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game and the terrifying eight-part series The Haunting of Hill House.
Now the writer/director is back for more, bringing along many of the cast members from his last series but with a change of source material.
Whereas The Haunting of Hill House was based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name, new series The Haunting of Bly Manor takes its inspiration from another master of horror: Henry James.
The main focus of this series is James’ horrifying 1898 novel The Turn of the Screw, which tells the story of a governess who becomes convinced the grounds where she works are haunted, but other James stories are present in the narrative as well.
The setting is updated to 1987, and according to Flanagan it’s even scarier than Hill House – and with the series set to arrive in time for Halloween, it couldn’t be coming at a better time.
The new series will move away from the family drama aspect of the first season, and focus more on a tragic love story – with potential suggestions of a ghostly love triangle – and many cast members from Hill House will be returning, albeit in brand new roles.
Victoria Pedretti (You), who played breakout role Nell McCrain in Hill House, will now play Dani Clayton, an American nanny who travels to the English countryside to accept a new – and, as it turns out, sinister – posting, looking after two orphaned children.
The creepy teaser trailer, released at the end of August, suggests that the action kicks off with an au pair’s death – and the hiring of an American replacement, who comes to live at the house. The teaser also features dolls that come alive at night (fairly standard horror fare but still terrifying) and an orphaned little girl, who’s alarmingly composed when confronted with a loud demon.
And if that wasn’t already enough to have you hiding behind the sofa, a full-length The Haunting of Bly Manor trailer was released in September which teased at even more terrifying prospects.
Here’s everything we know about The Haunting of Hill House season two, AKA The Haunting of Bly Manor.
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When is The Haunting of Bly Manor’s release date?
The next chapter in the “Haunting of” series will be released on Netflix on 9th October 2020.
Returning star Oliver Jackson-Cohen previously confirmed that filming had wrapped as of February 2020.
“We just wrapped,” Jackson-Cohen told RadioTimes.com. “We’ve been in Vancouver since September, and we wrapped on Sunday [16th February]. So it should be out later this year.
And series creator recently Mike Flanagan announced that the series will be released before the year is out – claiming that coronavirus had not slowed down work on the follow up.
Speaking to ReelBlend podcast in July 2020, Flanagan said, “I don’t expect it to be delayed one bit. We didn’t really miss a step, believe it or not. We had already wrapped before the whole COVID shutdown hit all the productions.”
He added that while no official launch date was (at the time) available yet, it wouldn’t be too long before more information arrives – claiming, “I think Netflix haven’t announced when it’s coming out. They’ve got their own plan. But we’ve been jamming through post. It’s been going great. It’s definitely later this year. It’s not going to get kicked off into 2021, or anything. Everything’s on schedule.”
While we wait for October, you can re-watch season one – and keep an eye out for all those hidden ghosts — over on Netflix.
The Haunting of Bly Manor trailer
In September, fans were given a terrifying glimpse at what lies in store, with the first full-length trailer being released.
The trailer shows tutor Dani Clayton comforting the Bly Manor children’s following the deaths of their parents.
Eerily, she tells them,”In a way, they’ll always be here” – which certainly has haunting connotations for the series as a whole – watch the trailer in full below.
Before that, a creepy teaser trailer was released on 31st August (Bank Holiday Monday in the UK), introducing us to a brand new location where all is not what it seems. You can watch the trailer here.
What is The Haunting of Bly Manor about?
Set in the English countryside in 1987 , the new series will reportedly focus more on a tragic romance.
Showrunner Mike Flanagan told Vanity Fair: “It certainly provides a new way to tell a love story, and there are three of them really that beat at the heart of this season,” Flanagan said. “They all have a very dark edge to them. And by the end, it’s really hard to differentiate tragedy with romance. That sense of romantic longing for someone who meant so much to us—but who’s gone—really is the heart of any ghost story.”
The series borrows its title from Henry James’ ghostly novella The Turn of the Screw, and Flanagan previously confirmed that the author’s ghost stories have inspired the new series. He also added that it will be “much scarier than season one”.
“We’re looking at all the ghost stories of Henry James as the jumping-off point for the season,” he told Birth.Movies.Death, “so it very much is a whole new deal. For Henry James fans, it’s going to be pretty wild, and for people who aren’t familiar with his work, it’s going to be unbelievably scary. I already think it’s much scarier than season one, so I’m very excited about it.”
The Haunting of Bly Manor cast
Many cast members who previously played Crain family members will be returning – but as brand new characters.
Season one will be the last we see of the Crain family, after one of the cast members confirmed that season one was “the end” for them – or at least for their Hill House characters…
Previously asked whether viewers could look forward to a second season, Michael Huisman (Steven Crain) told RadioTimes.com: “Yeah, but what would that season look like? I’d be very curious. Very curious. Very early when we started shooting this first season I remember having a couple of conversations with Mike [Flanagan, director and writer] about that because it feels so contained. It feels so… It’s an end.”
Netflix later confirmed that the next installment would feature “a new story with all new characters”.
Victoria Pedretti, who played standout character Nell in Hill House, has snagged the lead role in Bly Manor, playing American tutor Dani Clayton.
Dani’s charges are the two Wingrave children, Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) and Flora (Amelie Bea Smith), while Henry Thomas plays their wealthy uncle.
Other cast members include T’Nia Miller (who viewers will recognise from Years and Years) as the manor’s manager Hannah Grose.
Kate Siegel joins the cast, as does Oliver Jackson-Cohen, playing the insufferable Peter Quint.
Amelia Eve plays the groundskeeper Jamie; Tahirah Sharif plays the children’s previous governess Rebecca Jessel; and Rahul Kohli plays house chef Owen.
What happened in The Haunting of Hill House season one?
The show follows Hugh and Olivia Crain and their five children, and the series flips back and forth in time: alternating from present-day when the Crain children are adults, to back to when the family temporarily lived at Hill House for the summer.
Adult Crain children are still haunted by the brief time they spent at the house, during which time their mother Olivia died under mysterious circumstances. When one of the siblings returns to the house to face their demons, their tragic demise draws the remaining four Crain children back to Hill House.
Things get even spookier when we begin to realise that the house is really alive — more akin to the shark in Jaws than a standard haunted house. The Red Room (basically an evil version of the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter) functions as the house/monster’s “stomach”. It creates illusions tailored to each of the Crain siblings, luring them in and ultimately devouring them — and as in most horror films and shows, not everyone lives to tell the tale.
In one particularly sinister twist, Nellie (Victoria Pedretti) — the joint-youngest Crain child and probably the most sympathetic character in the show — is revealed to be the Bent-Neck Lady, the terrifying apparition she saw frequently as a child. The house tricks Adult-Nell into putting a noose around her neck (in her mind, it’s her mother’s locket), and she breaks her neck, before falling backwards in time and appearing in various major points in her own past. In other words, she was haunting herself.