Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'The Haunting of Bly Manor'

Netflix's follow-up to 'The Haunting of Hill House' is said to be even scarier.

haunting of hill house
Netflix

In fall 2018, Netflix thrilled audiences with The Haunting of Hill House, which Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep, Gerald's Game) adapted from Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel. Hailed for its great cast and full of intricate scares, ghosts looming in the background, and Easter eggs, the horror director's series about a family forced to face the past and the childhood home that's haunted them for years was a stand-out of that year's spooky season.

The show was originally intended to last only one season -- but when it became a hit, fans began wondering if a second installment would happen. Their queries were answered when Flanagan scored a massive deal from Netflix in early 2019 --but with a twist. Rather than exploring the Crain family further, he decided to go the anthology route, and the show was re-christened as The Haunting. Each season will tell a different ghost story and feature an all new cast and Netflix announced that the second season's title is The Haunting of Bly Manor. What's in store for us this time around? Let's break it down.

When will The Haunting of Bly Manor be released? 

While many shows have been forced to suspend production and push their release dates back due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Haunting of Bly Manor fortunately hasn't been affected. Flanagan tweeted that the show wrapped filming in late February 2020, and revealed on Twitter in April that Bly Manor wasn't affected by Hollywood's shutdown.

The Haunting of Hill House came out in mid-October 2018 just ahead of Halloween, and that seems like a good bet for the Season 2 release date. Flanagan told The Wrap in October 2019 that, while he was just as in the dark about the release date, sometime around Halloween 2020 is likely when fans might expect to see new episodes.

What will The Haunting of Bly Manor be about?

As soon as The Haunting of Bly Manor was announced, horror fans were quick to recognize "Bly" as a reference to the creepy setting in Henry James' gothic classic The Turn of the Screw. The novella, which has been adapted many times (including the recent 2020 film The Turning), follows a young governess who moves to an estate to take care of two peculiar, orphaned children and things quickly prove to be not as they seem.

While the season is set to be inspired by the James novel, it might not necessarily be a straight adaptation. Flanagan told Birth.Death.Movies. that the season is inspired by a variety of Henry James' gothic tales. He said, "We’re looking at all the ghost stories of Henry James as the jumping-off point for the season." He later told Games Radar that "The Turn of the Screw is only one of a dozen stories" the upcoming season focuses on, eventually expanding into other texts. He said, "I think of 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 "The Jolly Corner" and "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," and so many other of these wonderful ghost stories that people haven't seen adapted before."

James' other works are just as eerie as his famous novel. The Jolly Corner is about a man who returns to the building where he grew up and begins to be haunted by the ghost of the man he could've become; and The Romance of Certain Old Clothes is another goth short story about a pair of sisters torn apart and fallen on misfortunes after they fall in love with the same man. With ghost stories like those and likely others feeding into the plot, and Turning of the Screw at the center of it all, it sounds like we're in for another bonkers, mind-bending ride.

Are any Hill House cast members returning?

It looks like Mike Flanagan is pulling a Ryan Murphy and recycling a lot of his Hill House cast members to play completely new characters in Bly Manor. Victoria Pedretti, who played Nellie Crain in Hill House and then solidified her standing as a Netflix staple on Season 2 of the murder thriller You, will be back to lead the ensemble. In a video she shared on social media, the star revealed that she'll be playing Dani, "a governess who takes care of two very unusual children" -- just like the protagonist of The Turn of the Screw.

Pedretti was the first bit of casting news, announced back in summer 2019, but definitely not the last. Oliver-Jackson Cohen, the actor who played her twin, Luke, on Hill House, was the next to come on board, and he, too, shared a video with more info, revealing that he'll be playing Peter, "a charming young man who lives at Bly … [and] makes life difficult for everyone there." He added, "Victoria, I'm coming to find you!" so if you're familiar with the original text and remember the villain Peter Quint, you'll know exactly how he terrorizes the governess and others at the estate.

Aside from those two leads, Henry Thomas (last season's patriarch, Hugh Crain), Kate Siegel (Theo), Amelia Eve (Jamie), and Catherine Parker (Poppy Hill) have also signed on to return.

What about new cast members?

A handful of fresh faces will be involved with Bly Manor, too. Since The Turn of the Screw is largely led by the two children the governess looks after, Flanagan shared on Twitter the actors set to fill the roles. He wrote, "If you know The Turn of The Screw, you know how critical the characters of Miles and Flora are... I’m so grateful that we found Benjamin Ainsworth and Amelie Smith, who will be amazing in these crucial roles."

In the same thread of casting announcements, he also shared that T'Nia Miller (Years and Years) and Rahul Kohli (iZombie) will appear in leading roles as well.

How scary will it be?

One of the best parts of The Haunting of Hill House viewing experience was how unsettling it was. (We're still thinking about that one-shot-trick sequence full of disappearing children.) If Hill House freaked you out, though, you might want to keep the lights on or have a blanket on hand to hide under while watching Bly Manor because Flanagan says it's going to be even scarier than Season 1. He told Birth.Death.Movies., "It's going to be unbelievably scary," going so far to say it's "much scarier than season one."

There supposedly won't be any shortage of ghosts hidden in the background like there were in Hill House, so start mentally preparing for the new season now as we wait for more details to be announced.

Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.