If you watched Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House, you’d realise that the show was about much more than ghost stories; it was about family. It explored how even if you’re far apart, there’s a bond that can’t be broken. As expected, The Haunting of Bly Manor follows a similar route, but it’s about emotional trauma and guilt more than anything else.
If you’re looking for endless jump scares and cheap horror schlock, this show isn’t for you. It isn’t the type of series you put on a Friday night for a quick scare and laugh about how you freaked out when something appeared out of nowhere.
No, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a study of humanity. About how our internal demons follow us around, never allowing us to forget the past. It shows how traumatic events become emotional wounds, and they’re left untreated, you’ll be stuck with the poison of regret and fear for the rest of your life.
Inspired by Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw, the series is much like real life where there are multiple protagonists whose paths cross and intersect—either bringing joy and comfort or pain and heartache. As the show begins to unravel, you’ll see how they’re all more deeply connected than you realise, and how the themes of honesty and letting go play prevalent roles in their stories.
While several critics have complained about the lack of scares in The Haunting of Bly Manor, the writing and performances in the series have been nothing short of phenomenal. They’ve tapped into the rawest human nerve and pressed on it, causing you a reaction that feels so uneasy, real, and brutally honest.
In particular, there’s a campfire scene where Rahul Kohli’s character, Owen, provides a haunting monologue about the fear of losing someone, but also the internal conflict of what this trauma does to someone—including the conflicting feelings of wishing it’d just be over. It’s visceral and uncomfortable, but the message lingers, as you’re forced to come face-to-face with your own guilts and regrets.
Ultimately, The Haunting of Bly Manor isn’t a lesson about death but life. It’s a bold declaration that we need to embrace our short moments on this mortal coil and be truthful to who we are. If we don’t, the ghosts haunting us aren’t necessarily trying to scare us; they’re acting as reminders that it’s time to let go and live. Those nine episodes provide a powerful message about love—for us and others—wrapped in the façade of a ghost story.
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.