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The Haunting Of Bly Manor Vs. Hill House: Which Is Scarier?

Horror fans got an unexpected treat in 2018 when Netflix dropped The Haunting of Hill House, a mercilessly terrifying series loosely adapted from the classic Shirley Jackson novel of the same name. It wasn't just that the show had some effective scares. The use of ghosts hidden in the background of many scenes, well-done jump scares, and some truly unsettling costume and makeup design made for a series that even diehard horror fans got a chill from. When the eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Haunting of Bly Manor, was getting ready to drop, fans had one question: would the new season (a different story, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James) be as scary as the original?

Now that The Haunting of Bly Manor is out (and sitting pretty on Netflix's top ten most-watched series list), its time to answer that question. To keep things equitable, let's look at what fans of the franchise on Reddit have to say, along with critics' reviews, to see the general consensus on which of the two The Haunting of... installments is the most terrifying. Minor spoilers will follow.

Fans on Reddit think The Haunting of Hill House out-spooks Bly Manor

The Haunting of Hill House is a tough act to follow, and for many fans on Reddit, The Haunting of Bly Manor didn't exceed its predecessor. That doesn't mean the more recent series doesn't have its fans, though.

In a thread titled "Thoughts on Bly Manor?" user hban10 kicked off a discussion on the new season with, "I liked it. Much less scarier [sic] than Hill House, but just as good a story really."

The admission that The Haunting of Bly Manor isn't as scary as the first season was shared by many throughout the forum. Replying to another thread titled "Hill House or Bly Manor," user ekahyl21 offered a critical take on the season: "Bly Manor had a satisfying ending but I felt like it lacked alot [sic] and it was definitely not as chilling in nature and at times it was painfully obvious."

But some viewers have a connection to the new installment. User El_Giganto wrote, "I thought both were great, though I can understand why people think the first season was a lot scarier and therefore better. I can agree with that, but I still absolutely loved Bly Manor."

Replying to the "Thoughts on Bly Manor?" thread, user Mariapaniagua wrote, "I'm blown away by how much this season made me feel and I'm even more scared than I was in Hill House, just because I'm scared of death and I overthink a lot and I have thought of what happens after you die... I didn't liked how that felt for me... I guess it hit more close to home than I had expected."

Even though many enjoyed The Haunting of Bly Manor, for the most part, Reddit users found The Haunting of Hill House to be much more scream-inducing.

Critics found a lot to love in The Haunting of Bly Manor, but didn't think it was that scary

Fans of the series on Reddit were mostly in agreement that The Haunting of Hill House is the scarier of the two seasons. But what do the critics have to say?

Glen Weldon of NPR praised The Haunting of Bly Manor for what he saw as improvements over the first season. However, despite an overall positive review, he did concede that the second season didn't have the same level of terror as the first. He wrote, "[I]t must be said that Bly Manor just isn't as scary as Hill House was, nor as inventive in its approach to creeping us out."

In a review for The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Fienberg outed the series' bait-and-switch: "Mike Flanagan's follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House presents itself as a ghost story, but it's actually a love story." He went on to note, "For all its ramping up of tension, actual scares are almost completely absent. The performances and emotional stakes keep The Haunting of Bly Manor watchable despite that..."

Emma Stefansky gave the show a glowing review in Thrillist and broke down the two seasons' very different approaches to their fear factors: "Compared to [last] season... [Bly Manor] is barely frightening at all — but that's far from a criticism... the show spends less time on crafting its (very effective) scares, and more on exploring what force could possibly be powerful enough to turn a dead person into a ghost."

So, according to fans and critics alike, it looks like Hill House's haunts out-terrified Bly Manor's. But as many reviewers pointed out, getting people scared is only one aspect of a successful horror series, and there are many other things that The Haunting at Bly Manor excels at.