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Mike Flanagan
Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve
Writing Credits:

After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor.

Rated TV-MA.

Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
English Dolby True HD 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 484 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 10/12/2021

• Audio Commentaries for 3 Episodes
• “Home for the Haunted” Featurette
• “Welcome to Bly Manor” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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The Haunting of Bly Manor [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 30, 2021)

Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel, 2018’s The Haunting of Hill House became a nice hit via Netflix streaming. Based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, 2020’s The Haunting of Bly Manor offers another mini-series from much of the same crew.

This 3-disc package provides all 10 of the episodes, with plot synopses from the series’ website.

The Great Good Place: “A bright-eyed American au pair Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) hopes to make a difference caring for two orphans in a grand English manor, yet the feeling of dread is undeniable.”

As noted, Bly adapts Henry James, whereas Hill came from Shirley Jackson. Obviously this means Bly doesn’t offer a sequel to Hill.

2020 actually gave us another version of James’ tale, as The Turning came out in January, about nine months before Bly came to Netflix.

The Turning offered a feeble horror tale, and since I liked Hill, I go into Bly with moderate expectations. “Place” doesn’t excel, but it does enough to show some promise.

Honestly, I might anticipate high quality from Bly as a whole, but I don’t feel the same about opening episodes. They exist largely for expository reasons, which “Place” does well enough. Though I can’t claim “Place” makes me dying to see what happens next, it fires on enough cylinders to work.

The Pupil: “After experiencing a harrowing scare, Dani tries to teach the children a lesson. Still, the kids have an unsettling way of getting under one's skin.”

Some backstory emerges here, and the “creep factor” ratchets up in a satisfying manner. The overall narrative starts to push ahead in this worthwhile episode.

The Two Faces, Part One: “Dani and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) get an uncanny glimpse of the past. Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif) and their twisted history cast a long shadow.”

Normally when I approach the first of a two-part sequence, I wait until the second chapter to discuss the episodes. However, “Part Two” won’t come for another three shows, so I’ll cover the pair separately.

Another flashback comes to the forefront here, as we see Dani’s predecessor and get a hint of the threats at hand. This becomes another intriguing show that moves along narrative elements well.

The Way It Came: “Racked with guilt, Dani is haunted by her own heartbreaking loss. Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles find ways to cope, and Bly's staff remember the dead over a bonfire.”

Once again, the series mixes material from the main story’s “current day” with flashbacks. This time we see more of Dani’s past, with a look at her near-marriage. That becomes the most impactful element on display here, but the rest works well, too.

The Altar of the Dead: “She's seen it all. The memories come flooding back for housekeeper Hannah Grose (T'Nia Miller) as she reflects on the living and dead trapped at Bly Manor.”

Bly resists the urge to indulge in “jump scares” most of the time, as it prefers a creepy tone and ominous allusions. That becomes the major vibe with “Dead”, as it shows more about the characters while it also gives matters a darker sensibility.

The Jolly Corner: “In denial and embroiled in his work, Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) must reckon with himself. Dani reaches out to Jamie while Flora gets lost in the past.”

The quirkiest aspect of Bly comes from the fact it uses some of the same actors from Hill House in different roles. It seems a little clever-clever to feature a “recurring ensemble” like this, but since the series doesn’t utilize the actors in a gratuitous manner, it works.

One of the “repeat actors”, Henry Thomas comes to the fore here. Since we’ve not seen a lot of him in the prior shows, this adds impact to the series’ overall narrative.

The Two Faces, Part Two: “Miles and Flora are pulled into a ghostly game. Faced with the facts, Rebecca comes to an unhappy conclusion, and Hannah makes a shattering discovery.”

We finally get the second segment of “Faces” here. Various plot/character elements continue to intensify in this creepy and compelling episode.

The Romance of Certain Old Clothes: “Bly's dark origins come to light. Once the iron-willed lady of the manor, Viola (Kate Siegel) becomes consumed by a monstrous rage, ensnaring all souls around her.”

Without much time left in Bly, we head toward a climax, though no one should expect anything action-packed. Given the series’ fairly low-key nature, this seems inevitable – and appropriate, as a Big Honkin’ Finale would feel out of place. “Clothes” sets us up for the last episode in an engaging manner, as it finally reveals the secret of the manor.

The Beast in the Jungle: “The dream is done, yet danger prevails. Hannah summons the courage to act. A fate worse than death threatens everyone at Bly. Who will pay the price?”

The series comes to an end with “Jungle”, a suitably effective look at what happens to the characters. Much of “Jungle” feels like denouement, as the main narrative ends fairly early in the episode.

This works fine, as “Jungle” gives us an impactful look at the aftermath of the series’ events. It becomes a worthwhile finish to a pretty effective tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Haunting of Bly Manor appears in an aspect ratio of 2.00:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The episodes provided quality visuals.

Overall delineation seemed strong. A handful of wide shots gave us a smidgen of softness, but definition usually appeared tight and accurate.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes or source flaws.

Like most modern horror efforts, Bly delivered a palette heavy on teal, amber and orange. The discs reproduced those colors with good fidelity.

Blacks appeared dark and dense, while shadows seemed clear and smooth – albeit a little too heavy at times. This was a mostly satisfying presentation.

Given the series’ TV roots, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundscapes didn’t dazzle, but they opened up the shows well. This meant a reasonable amount of atmospheric material from the various speakers.

The mixes concentrated on the front but they added a fair level of involvement from the back speakers. These tracks created a pretty good sense of place and popped up life during more dynamic horror sequences.

Audio quality worked fine. Music was full and lively, while speech became natural and distinctive.

Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, with good range. While the audio’s TV origins held back its potential some, the tracks still added life to the shows.

We find audio commentaries for three episodes:

“The Great, Good Place”: creator/director Mike Flanagan.

“The Altar of the Dead”: director Liam Gavin.

“The Romance of Certain Old Clothes”: director Axelle Carolyn.

Across these, we find running, screen-specific discussions of the source and its adaptation, story/characters/themes, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, effects and various production insights.

All three tracks work fine, but Flanagan’s easily proves the most effective, as he offers a pretty terrific take on the topics. Give the others a listen as well, though, as they bring useful material, even if they seem less compelling than Flanagan’s.

On Disc Three, two featurettes appear. Home for the Haunted runs 11 minutes, 45 seconds and includes notes from Flanagan.

He discusses story/character areas, with an emphasis on the series’ depiction of ghosts. Flanagan offers some useful insights.

Welcome to Bly Manor fills 11 minutes, 15 seconds and brings info from Flanagan. He talks about the source and its adaptation as well as additional story/character moments and visual effects. Flanagan offers another good overview of these topics

As a follow up to The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor becomes an effective mini-series. Hill House probably fares a little better, but Bly nonetheless succeeds in its own right. The Blu-rays offer good picture and audio as well as a few bonus materials. Bly Manor becomes a quality horror

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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