Bly Manor VS Hill House

Which Netflix horror show is better?


Erica Niehoff

This is an opinion article piece. Erica Niehoff is a junior at Mendham who writes for Arts and Entertainment. All opinions expressed in the following editorial are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Patriot. 

Well-known director, Mike Flanagan,  is recognized for his intriguing portrayal of the link between horror and spirituality. From the thrill to the beauty, to the romance, each aspect speaks to the viewer individually to help shape their overall experience. Unlike many who think of horror movies as just a spooky plot and jump scares, Flanagan takes a different approach. Characters are most important in his work, and their psychologies. The development of each role played over the course of his work helps round out the story, this is extremely apparent in his Netflix features. Many dispute as to which of his Netflix features is better. The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, both directed by Mike Flanagan, will be judged on which one is better and the comparisons between the two. There aren’t any major spoilers, just some things mentioned in the first episode.

Starting off, in my opinion, one of the very best shows on Netflix is The Haunting of Hill House. It was released on Netflix in 2018 and tells the story of a family of seven who renovates a house to sell. However, they get more than they bargained for when they buy the seemingly beautiful Hill House. One of the many reasons why this show is so spectacular is because of how the story is told. Jumping back and forth between past and present, Flanagan shows the effects of trauma and how grief affects everyone differently. Each episode focuses on one child, and how their experience at the house when they were young affects them today. Not only this, but each child represents a stage of grief. From the oldest dealing with denial, another dealing with anger, then Theodora dealing with bargaining, Luke dealing with depression, and Nellie, the youngest, dealing with her acceptance with death. Horror needs to have a purpose. Yes, the jump scare movies are fun but don’t leave a lasting impact. With Flanagan’s work, the viewer understands why horror is needed and how it plays into the story. The extreme attention to detail with each of the characters and how they are written is so compelling. Even the camera angles hint at major foreshadowing, it just comes together so perfectly. The only con of the show is that it needs to be more in-depth about the house’s history and why it is this way. However, this isn’t detrimental, as the story doesn’t solely focus on the house, just how a traumatic experience can completely change someone. Overall, the show is so well written and an all-time favorite.

The Haunting of Bly Manor was just released in the recent months of 2020. Although there are many similarities to point out between the two, like a haunted mansion or ghosts or jump scares or dead family members or the same set being used as well as the same music or being based on books. There are still a lot of differences. One is how the story is told. At first, it is told as a story from the past, which in this case is in the ’80s in England. Although Hill House has more structure to the flashbacks, Bly Manor has the occasional double flashbacks, until the fifth episode. It follows a woman who tells the people invited to a wedding rehearsal the story of a character named Dani, who is running away from her past by getting a job as a caregiver for two children living in the manor, who are dealing with the loss of their parents and the recent death of the last caregiver. Even with the knowledge that she died on the property, she still takes the job, unknowingly signing up for even more trauma. Again this show deals with the impacts made on someone’s life. However, in this case, the show more specifically deals with guilt and how it can plague someone’s life. Dani’s guilt traps her in his maze of shame and she struggles with her past actions. Her guilt even physically haunts her and other characters. Different types of guilt are present: guilt that comes from believing that they are bad when they are not, or from past sins and mistakes. Even guilt being pressed on someone by another person. The topic of accepting death is also common in Bly Manor. One can not hide or fear it, or they start to lose themselves and become desperate. Both of the shows do such an amazing job at wrapping the viewer in a metaphorical blanket of questions, until the last moment when all is unveiled. Slowly each episode’s questions are answered, but the show forces the viewer to think for themselves and predict, which overall makes the experience so much more enjoyable. However, because of the lack of organization in the plot, it can become quite difficult to understand. Even when everything is revealed at the end, it still can leave the viewer perplexed. Not only this, but the characters were hard to follow. Hill House gave each character an episode to shine and gave the viewer a chance to connect with each character. Understanding what they went through and how they are dealing helps the audience further comprehend the plot and enjoy the story. With Bly Manor, we as viewers aren’t given a lot of information on the character until the very end. Because of this, the audience isn’t entirely connected with all the characters and can care for them emotionally. When a show grabs the attention of the public by using the characters, they are more willing to continue watching and sympathize with them. Although the show wants us to sympathize with Dani, it is difficult because we don’t know a lot about her and her past until the very end. It is very important in horror entertainment for the viewer to be attached to the character because it will affect the public more if they are put into a troubling situation.

 From Ari Aster to Mike Flanagan, horror as we know it is changing. Traditional scary movies are gone, and the films with compelling plots and characters are coming in, leaving the viewer with a lasting impression. Overall, both The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor is both unique and compelling in their own way, leaving the expectations for the entertainment industry even higher than before.