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The New Supernatural Horror Series That's Dominating Netflix

Netflix is dropping a lot of chilling offerings in the month of October, but perhaps the most hotly anticipated was the follow-up to their hit original series The Haunting of Hill House. Fans have been clamoring for another installment of the modern take on gothic horror ever since the Tall Man caused a collective heart attack when the series dropped in 2018. Now, that follow-up has arrived, and considering that, at the time of this writing, The Haunting of Bly Manor is number 1 on Netflix's list of the most-watched series on their platform, it looks like viewers are ready for more scares.

Although it shares many of the same elements as its predecessor, The Haunting of Bly Manor is a stand-alone series that introduces all-new characters, narratives, hidden references, and most importantly, ghosts. But it's not just the spooky factor that the two seasons share in common. From the literary inspirations to the familiar cast, The Haunting of Bly Manor has several points of connection to The Haunting of Hill House. Like American Horror Story before it, The Haunting of... franchise is establishing itself as an anthology series that always leaves viewers waiting for the next installment.

Here's what you need to know about The Haunting of Bly Manor, the latest edition of the terrifying supernatural horror series that Netflix viewers can't get enough of.

What is The Haunting of Bly Manor about?

The story of The Haunting of Bly Manor takes place across multiple timelines, but the core of the action happens in 1987. When an American au pair named Dani (Victoria Pedretti) is hired to look after two children, Flora and Miles Wingrave (Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), at the secluded and eerie Bly Manor, it first appears to be a fabulous opportunity. If horror movies and literature have taught us anything, however, it's that being the new governess at a windswept English manor is a surefire way to encounter some truly terrifying ghosts.

That ends up being true for poor Dani. Bly Manor and the Wingrave family hold a multitude of secrets, and as Dani gets to know the children and the manor's housekeeper, Hannah (T'Nia Miller), and cook, Owen (Rahul Kohli), she realizes that everyone is hiding something from her. And they aren't the only ones. Dani has a dark past of her own, and as she fights to keep her sanity in the increasingly unnerving house, she must face the sins of the past to find a path toward the future.

The Haunting of Bly Manor draws inspiration from a master of horror

If the name of The Haunting of Hill House sounded familiar, that's likely because the first season of the anthology series was loosely based on the influential horror novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. The book has been adapted for screen multiple times, including 1999's The Haunting. The Netflix series, however, took the story in a fresh direction, while keeping the chilling atmosphere and themes of mental illness and the ways in which people become attached to a home.

The Haunting of Bly Manor is no different. This time, the season takes its cues from 19th-century writer Henry James. His novella The Turn of the Screw is considered a classic of the horror genre, and its premise — a young governess who experiences strange happenings at a house where she's watching two children — is the inspiration for the proceedings on The Haunting of Bly Manor. But The Turn of the Screw isn't the only James story from which the series drew. The author was responsible for other stories of the supernatural, and they also play a part in creating The Haunting of Bly Manor's world.

Series creator Mike Flanagan spoke about combining multiple James stories for his latest outing during an interview with Games Radar. He explained, "I think of [The Turn of the Screw] as the backbone of this season — the through line that carries us from beginning to end. But we get to go off into ... so many other of these wonderful ghost stories that people haven't seen adapted before. It's all wrapped up in what seems to be familiar, but that familiarity goes away really early in the first episode. It says, 'We're off on a whole other road.'"

There are lots of familiar faces in The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of... 's anthology format isn't the only thing it has in common with American Horror Story. The second season brings back many cast members from the first, albeit in very different roles. For instance, Pedretti, who stars as Dani in The Haunting of Bly Manor, played troubled younger Crain sibling Nell in The Haunting of Hill House. Similarly, Henry Thomas (aka Elliott from E.T.), Carla Gugino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, and Catherine Parker all return.

In an interview with Movie Network, Pedretti and Thomas spoke about being members of The Haunting of... players. When asked if she had been excited about the prospect of returning for another season, Pedretti expressed no reservations, saying, "I was very eager to be a part of it. There actually was a moment where I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it, and it was horrible."

Likewise, Thomas was thrilled to work with Flanagan again, for a very specific reason: "Most of the things that Mike presents to me and has presented me so far have been really interesting roles, and roles that I don't usually get a chance to play. You know, I'm usually typecast in sympathetic roles, and that's about it. So, it's been a fun collaboration."

Considering critics have been praising The Haunting of Bly Manor, it seems inevitable that Flanagan will be rounding up his cast for another chilling season at some point in the future. Until then, Netflix viewers have two richly scary stories to lose themselves in.