REVIEW: ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ invokes the horrors of mortality

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(Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” has its fair share of jump scares, but the true horror lies in its exploration of mortality. The age-old question, “What happens when we die?” is overshadowed by a more daunting question — “Are we sure we’re alive?”

This thrilling sequel to “The Haunting of Hill House” follows Danielle “Dani” Clayton, portrayed by Victoria Pedretti, as she leaves her life and career in America to au pair for two orphaned children in rural England. Running from her own secrets, Dani gets wrapped up in the mysterious secrets of her new home, Bly Manor.

Plagued by the gravity of an unknown entity, Bly Manor hosts many trapped souls. Unable to escape, they aimlessly wander the grounds, forgotten by the world and even themselves. As time passes, all that remains are faceless figures, more like dolls than the living beings they once were.

More horrifying than the faceless remnants of these forgotten souls are the ones trying not to fade away, taking whatever measures necessary to avoid eternity at Bly Manor. Deceit, possession and murder are just a few ways these spirits attempt to maintain residence in the land of the living.

Trapped between the living and the dead, some of these spirits are unaware they have passed, going about their daily routines none the wiser to their unfortunate circumstances.

These spirits believe they are alive to the point they can touch and feel like a living being. The only thing separating them from the living is their inability to leave Bly Manor. They simply lose track of time when nobody is around, only existing in the presence of others.

This was the single most horrific part of the show, more so than the entity trapping these souls at Bly Manor. If we aren’t aware of our death, do we continue playing the part of a living person? How can we be sure we aren’t imposters trapped on Earth, only existing in the presence of others? It’s a chilling thought, one I wish I’d never had.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is more than a horror story with creepy orphans and dangerous spirits. In truth, it is a love story. The importance of relationships, both romantic and platonic, is a central theme of the series.

While toxic relationships break people down until nothing is left, beautiful ones transcend everything, including death. The series shows in the whole scheme of things, everyone dies twice. First when we leave the world, and second when our name is forgotten.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is slower than its predecessor, but the emotional depth of the story is undeniable. Many episodes are heartbreaking beyond belief, especially the finale.

Overall, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is a beautifully haunting love story. Love is terrifying, scarier than all the ghosts that haunt the manor. It consumes everything and can destroy a person from the inside. However, if shared with the right person, not even death can tear it apart.

Jared Shuff is a junior in secondary education. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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