[SPOILER ALERT: Some mild spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor.]
‘The Haunting of Hill House’ has ‘dozens’ of hidden ghosts
Showrunner Mike Flanagan explained to Vulture how he hid “dozens of ghosts throughout” his adaptation of the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel. “Seeing in the dark is a consistent challenge for us,” he added, continuing:
Gothic horror relies on shadows, but also on being able to see the architecture and use it as an accomplice in a scare. [We] devised a pretty beautiful look for our darkness, and the rest was just having fun with the camera frame. We [hid the ghosts] in plain sight, in the deep background of shots. We don’t call any attention to them, but they’re there.
Fans have had a great time rewatching the first season of The Haunting series, trying to spot each of the hidden ghosts.
The ghosts in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ are different from the ghosts seen in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’
No scary story is complete without ghosts. The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on Henry James’s horror novella, The Turn of the Screw. So naturally, there are supernatural elements at play. But the ghosts seen in Bly Manor differ from the ghosts found in Hill House.
“We were just trying to hide faces and figures,” Flanagan told Vanity Fair regarding the ghosts in season 1. “This season, we wanted our hidden elements to tell their own story.” Instead of being fun Easter Eggs for fans to tally, the ghosts of Bly Manor are puzzle pieces in the story.
Flanagan opted to approach the ghosts differently this season because of the story’s setting. In Jackson’s novel, “Hill House is described as having this gothic, frightening, shadowy presence,” says Flanagan. But Bly Manor is “described as being bright and sunny and welcoming and rather beautiful.” By working the ghosts into the narrative as opposed to hiding them in the background, Flanagan is leaning into the “great, good place” that is Bly Manor.
“Very much unlike the first season, [the ghosts are] actually going to be explained,” Flanagan added. “By the end of the season, you’re going to know who they are and why they’re there.”
Are there hidden ghosts in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’?
The hidden ghosts found within The Haunting of Hill House are one of Flanagan’s favorite things about the first season.
“The hidden ghosts turned out to be one of my favorite things to play with on set,” Flanagan added. “The audience seemed to really like them. I loved watching people double back and try to find more of them.”
Ironically, there aren’t as many hidden ghosts in The Haunting of Bly Manor. Instead, Flanagan says fans will have to search for hidden meaning hidden within the characters.
“I loved that idea that [Bly Manor] didn’t present with any threat, that it would just be this more welcoming, more beautiful aesthetic, so that you don’t walk in and say, ‘This is a haunted house,’” Flanagan explained. “[Instead,] it’s the idea that the world that we’re presented with has all of the answers, but it has hidden meanings and has clues that would help us understand it differently, if we were able to see them.”
Like the hidden ghosts in The Haunting of Hill House, the living characters in The Haunting of Bly Manor are hiding secrets fans will have to uncover. Stream The Haunting of Bly Manor now.