|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Haunting of Bly Manor, The
Mike Flanagan's follow up to his 2018 Netflix hit, The Haunting Of Hill House, 2021's The Haunting Of Bly Manor is a nine episode series set in London, England in 1987. An American woman named Dani Clayton (Victoria Pedretti) has left her job as an elementary school teacher and, wanting to stay in England, interviews to work as an au pair to a pair of orphaned kids, Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) Wingrave and her brother Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), that live in the titular house, a stately abode out in the countryside. She's happy to be offered the position and moves into the beautiful old home as quickly as she's able.
It isn't long after her arrival that Dani starts feeling... weird about things. She cares for the two children very soon after meeting them but strange things keep happening in and around the home, many of which seem to tie into the kids' lives and possibly their past. Of course, there are other players that tie into all of this as well. There's Peter Quint (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) was the assistant to Henry Wingrave, the father of the children, and Jamie Taylor (Amelia Eve), the gardener, whom Dani takes an interest in shortly after they meet. Hannah Grose (T'Nia Miller) is the housekeeper who takes her duties to maintain the house and keep the kids safe extremely seriously. Owen Sharma (Rahul Hohli) is the cook that has to balance his professional duties with her personal life, caring for his aged mother.
Of course, the place is haunted, but to go into a whole lot of detail would spoil what turns out to be a pretty interesting and well-told story that proves to be a very satisfying mix of drama, romance and, yes, fairly effective horror all at the same time. Production values are pretty strong here, there is some digital effects work on display that is less than perfect but the camera work is, typically at least, excellent. The set design and costuming works really well the location that serves as the centerpiece of the show and the center of everything that happens really couldn't be better. Add to this some really strong sound design and some pretty great scoring and for the most part, on a technical level The Haunting Of Bly Manor is solid stuff indeed. The editing and overall framing and pacing of Dani's story is also done very effectively, with each episode building on the one that came before it and moving towards a conclusion that just simply works.
At the center of all of this is some very strong acting. Victoria Pedretti is really strong in the lead role, playing all aspects of her character quite believably. We buy it when she's scared just as much as we do when she's upset or caring for someone or just simply curious, it's a nuanced performance that brings life to Dani in a big way. Ainsworth and Smith are also very good as the children in her care. Not surpassingly, they aren't given quite as much to do as some of the adult players here but the young performers are good in their respective parts. The other actors and actresses in the cast also make for some intriguing characters, with Jackson-Cohen playing his mysterious role very effectively and Eve also turning in great work along the rest of the aforementioned players.
Again, we're trying to keep things on the vague side as this is one of those shows that is best gone into blind, but given the quality of the storytelling, production values and overall strength of the cast it's hard to imagine that anyone who can appreciate a good, slow burn ghost story wouldn't find a whole lot to enjoy about The Haunting Of Bly Manor.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor arrives on a set of three 50GB discs with each episode presented in its proper 1.78.1 widescreen aspect ratio. Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and shot digitally, this looks very good on Blu-ray. There is, obviously, no print damage or dirt to discuss and the image is spotless. Detail is quite strong throughout and we get nice, inky black levels. There is some mild banding in a couple of spots but no issues with any compression. Skin tones look good and there's strong depth and texture throughout. This looks very good, if maybe a step away from flawless.
Each episode of the series gets an English language Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix with optional subtitles provided in English SDH only. The audio quality is excellent, with some really powerful bass used effectively in quite a few key scenes and impressive use of the surround channels to build tension and atmosphere. Levels are nicely balanced throughout and the tracks are super clean and super clear. Dialogue is always discernible and as you'd expect, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.
The main extras in the set are a trio of commentary tracks. Disc one includes director/creator Mike Flannigan talking over The Good Place, disc two features director Liam Gavin on The Altar Of The Dead and disc three has director Liam Axelle Carolyn discussing The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes. Collectively, these cover a lot of ground such as the writing process, following up the series' successful predecessor, casting the picture, effects work, sets and locations and plenty more.
The third disc also includes two featurettes. The first is the twelve minute Home For The Haunted: The Ghosts Of Bly Manor and it looks at both the supernatural elements of the storyline as well as the gothic romance angle that plays a big part in it by going over the different characters that populate the series and some of the design work that went into creating it. The second featurette is Welcome To Bly Manor, an eleven minute piece that gives us a quick look at the making of the series, how it followed up The Haunting Of Hill House, influences that worked their way into the story, the setting and the locations sued.
Menus and episode selection are included on each disc, and as far as packaging goes, Paramount has included a slipcover.
The Haunting Of Bly Manor may not reinvent the wheel, in fact it wears a lot of its influences on its sleeves, but the series proves to be a spooky and entertaining ghost story made all the better by some nice direction, strong production values and good performances. The Blu-ray release from Paramount has some solid extra features and presents each episode in very nice shape. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.