If you’re reading this you’ve probably 1) heard about the Haunting of Hill House season 2 finally being confirmed with a different title, and 2) might be wondering what The Haunting of Bly House story is going to be about. Wave goodbye to the Crains, because Flanagan’s next series is based on The Turn of the Screw, a 1898 horror novel by Henry James which takes place at - you guessed it - Bly Manor.
The Haunting of Bly Manor story is likely to be somewhat based on the book, so I’ve pulled out the key things you’ll want to look out for in the series, from the characters you can expect to meet to what the ghosts are going to be like. Clue: just like the Hills, they’re creepy. But be warned, as below are spoilers for the entire plot of The Turn of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House ending, so if you want to go in knowing nothing about The Haunting of Bly Manor story, look away now.
How similar will The Haunting of Bly Manor be to The Turn of the Screw?
The Haunting of Hill House was loosely based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, so chances are that although The Haunting of Bly Manor will be influenced by James’ book, it won’t remain 100% faithful to it. We’ll probably be meeting similar characters, and one of them might even die just like they do in the book. One of the key similarities between The Haunting of Hill House book and TV show was Nell’s death, after all. Rest in peace and all that. Apart from the characters, safe to say the location of Bly Manor will be a key element. Although James was American he lived in England most of his life, so which country it’ll be set in is up for grabs.
It’s probably going to center around a Governess and two kids
Slap-bang in the middle of everything that happens in Bly Manor is the Governess. Young, inexperienced, but eager to prove herself, she’s probably going to be a tutor or au pair in The Haunting of Bly Manor because c’mon, who calls them governesses anymore? Like in The Turn of the Screw, in the series she’ll almost definitely be sent to look after Miles and Flora, two enigmatic but well-behaved orphans with a very wealthy uncle who, frankly, can’t be bothered to look after them himself. That’s hopefully going to be the major similarity between the book and the series, just like Hill House was the main thing linking Shirley Jackson’s novel to The Haunting of Hill House.
In the book the Governess starts to see ghosts at Bly Manor - but crucially, she’s the only one who sees them in the book. She becomes convinced that Miles and Flora are being corrupted by the ghosts of Miss Jessel, the children’s previous governess, and Peter Quint, a manipulative servant who took over Bly Manor once the uncle left. Her attitude towards the kids changes at the drop of a hat. Sometimes she’s bewitched by their angelic beauty, and sometimes she thinks they’re possessed by those two ghosts, which is really creepy when you remember that Jessel and Quint were lovers. Ew. Depending on whether you believe the ghosts she sees are real (more on that later), the Governess is either erratic and delusional, or a valiant brave woman trying to protect Miles and Flora from evil spirits.
It might be more ambiguous whether the ghosts are real or not
You can never be sure if the Governess is really seeing ghosts, or whether she’s hallucinating due to her fragile mental state that comes from the stress of looking after two children. This may be something that Flanagan’s series emphasises, especially as Bly Manor is likely going to be a countryside house in the middle of nowhere, with only the Governess, Miles, Flora, and the housekeeper Mrs Grose in situ (perhaps in a similar role to the Dudleys from The Haunting of Hill House).
I’m talking glimpses of Jessel and Quint that only the Governess appears to see, confused conversations with Mrs Grose about sightings of the spirits, and the children probably playing tricks on the Governess to exacerbate her fragile mental state. When it comes down to the climactic ending (glance below to see what I’m talking about), hopefully it could be interpreted in different ways like in the book- depending on your opinion the Governess might either be a hero trying to save two children from ghosts, or a delusional danger to Miles and Flora.
There’s going to be more ghosts hiding in the background
One of the big things in Turn of the Screw is that the Governess sees the ghosts of Jessel and Quint from a distance: atop a tower, through a window, on the other side of a lake, at the top of the stairs, and then finally up close in a classroom. So basically those Haunting of Hill House ghosts are definitely going to make a comeback, as there’s substantial precedent for the Bly Manor ghosts to be skulking in the shadows.
However, although those spirits are going to be lurking in the background, there might not be the same variety we got in Haunting of Hill House as Jessel and Quint are the only ghosts in Bly Manor in the book. Perhaps it’ll just be those two who are hidden in most of the scenes, waiting and watching Miles and Flora from afar… shudder. Plus Flanagan confirmed on Twitter that ghosts are going to be even creepier in The Haunting of Bly House:
We are already discussing how to up our hidden ghost game. https://t.co/rW4AW0LpF2February 22, 2019
Prepare for some eerie Omen-style kids
Miles and Flora might only be 10 and eight respectively, but boy do they come off as unnerving sometimes in The Turn of the Screw. Whether Flanagan keeps these details or not is up for debate, but the events of the book make for some… disturbing horror. The main question in James’ novel is whether the children’s straight-up weird behaviour (like having nightly activities that include staring gormlessly out of the window or going outside to stare at Bly Manor in the dark) indicates that they’re being possessed, or whether they’re just being little sods and enjoy tormenting their governess with their bad behaviour.
If the series does suggest that they’re possessed by Jessel and Quint, expect things to get real creepy real quick. It’s implied that the two had a dark sexual relationship, before Jessel committed suicide on holiday (possibly because she got pregnant), and Quint died by slipping on an icy path when he was drunk. Imagine two characters like that possessing a brother and sister. Vomit.
The ending could be traumatic and ambiguous, to say the least
After the true nature of The Haunting of Hill House ending was debated rather energetically online, with loads of people theorising that the Crains never really escaped Hill House, prepare for the same discussion to happen about the ending to The Haunting of Bly Manor story. In the book Flora gets sent away to London with Mrs Grose after she (understandably) says she doesn’t want to be around the Governess anymore, which makes things kinda awkward in the house as it’s only Miles and the Governess left. One night the Governess confronts Miles about why he was expelled from school. Following the reveal that Miles said merely “things” that he can’t recall, the Governess (pumped up by adrenaline after not really getting an answer to the question that’s plagued her for most of the tale) sees Quint’s ghost, and after she triumphantly confronts Miles about the spectre while holding him tight, the boy dies in her arms. The book finishes right there. What an ending.
Now, there are three ways that Miles might have died: he was either accidentally smothered by the Governess, died of shock, or Quint finally dispossesses the boy and kills him in the process. Flanagan could have a ton of fun with the ambiguity of this ending. Not that it’s fun to kill a fictional child in a horror series. Wow, that got dark real quick, huh?
Looking for more horror to sate your thirst? Check out our list of the best upcoming horror movies and get ready for some scares!