Peculiar circumstances lead to adaptation. What in other times might have been to stay in direct-to-video until they found the opportunity to move to bigger budgets, now horror directors like Mike Flanagan are finding more opportunity to grow through streaming series. Perhaps he is one of the authors of the moment in the genre and, nevertheless, the possibility that he will make a film again seems remote.
It helps, of course, almost total creative freedom where he has managed to develop his style to the ultimate consequences, also achieving success and connection with the public. ‘The Midnight Club’ aimed to be another one in her collection of triumphs (so far, far from it), but that does not change how valuable her risky adaptations of classics with ghost stories. Among them, perhaps the least appreciated but most suggestive and emotional is ‘The curse of Bly Manor’.
A new nightmare in the mansion
Released almost as a direct sequel to an anthology that began with the sweeping and incontestable ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, Flanagan dares again with haunted houses, taking Henry James’s essential ‘Another Turn of the Screw’ as a reference. A free adaptation maintains some keys and virtues but they are completely taken to the field of the director.
Hence, we can find airs of tapes like ‘Thriller’ by Jack Clayton, but it ends up reaching new and interesting areas that connect precisely with ‘Hill House’. Most of the actors from that miniseries/season/whatever return for this new one, with new characters and even completely altered roles.
Here an au pair in 1980s England takes on a peculiar assignment from a man to care for his nephews, orphaned after the traumatic death of their parents. She will live with them in a remote mansion in the countryside where the cook, the gardener and the housekeeper also reside. Although they will not be the only inhabitants, since a series of strange phenomena will reveal the presence of entities beyond life.
‘The curse of Bly Manor’: emotion and ghosts
The difference is very clear in tone with its predecessor. Although there are still ghosts and the direction maintains certain points, the tone dives more into gothic romancea style that is less in vogue and that when it has been tried to recover (such as Guillermo Del Toro’s undervalued ‘The Scarlet Summit’) has usually suffered a setback.
Flanagan manages to sell the artifactmaintaining a characteristic and brilliant atmosphere in addition to its emotional approach to ghosts that manages to move even the least lavished on terror.
For whatever reason, the series has ended up having a minor-work feel in Flanagan’s run with Netflix, but it’s still a rich work. Filled with well-developed luscious characters, well-measured storytelling throughout, and terrifyingly executed terror. Its nine episodes are perfect for a weekend marathon in the month of horror like October.