Does anything haunt us more than the ghosts of lost love? Unlikely, most would say. To this group of people, The Haunting of Bly Manor will come across as just the perfectly splendid series to binge on. A worthy follow-up to the Haunting Series, Netflix's Haunting of Bly Manor takes you to English country along with Dani, the pretty au pair who has just landed a new job. She knows how to care for children. But not too many kids, Dani says. It makes her care feel inadequate because she is unable to care for all of them at once. But two kids are fine. It makes her perfect for the job of a governess. There are two unusual kids to take care of at Bly Manor and so Dani sets off.
At Bly, the great good place, there's Flora and Miles, the two kids who lost their parents and are crawling back to some semblance of normalcy; galloping at times; sitting still at others. Miss Clayton - Dani - is intrigued by this pair. There are stick figures and dolls all over the huge manor; all Flora's. Flora, the younger of the two kids, is a little girl who loves spending hours scrutinising her Doll's House, a pretty splendid replica of Bly. But the dolls. The dolls. They are supposed to be talismans to guard Bly from the evils that supposedly lurk outside, Dani is told.
There are a handful of elders in this house. Housekeeper Mrs Grose, Owen the Chef, and Jamie the gardener. All of the inhabitants of Bly are haunted by their own ghosts. Everyone has a backstory. Somewhere, the story washes over reality. To a point where you don't quite know if you're in a dream or this is Bly. Dream-hopping, we are shown.
The Haunting of Bly Manor, loosely based on Henry James's novella The Turn of the Screw, is just the purgatory in between dream and reality that makes for a solid psychological thriller. The series does not have any jump scares. The horror here seeps out of your very bones. There's an old lover watching from behind your shoulder; as another drags you by the throat, back to Bly, if you were to think of escaping.
The Haunting of Bly Manor, quite like Bly, traps you in its baroque beauty. The frames are delightful. The music is overwhelming (full marks for the peppering of O Willow Waly from The Innocents all through the series), as is the cinematography. Bly is both gorgeous and grim, pretty and petrifying. And underneath all, is a centuries-old story that never quite goes out of fashion. Because love, come what may, never goes out of fashion.
When you're done with the first episode, you will check for ghosts in the mirror. At the end of the ninth, you will seek out a face in that pool of tears that you find yourself having dissolved in as O Willow Waly plays on the speaker. For The Haunting of Bly Manor is not a ghost story. It is a love story. A perfectly splendid one.