Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House was a smash hit when it debuted on Netflix last October, but the series featured a very conclusive ending. Fortunately, Flanagan’s distinctive style for the franchise will live on with the announcement that The Haunting will return in the form of an anthology series in 2020. The next season will focus on Henry James’ 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw, and it will be called The Haunting of Bly Manor. Given the incredible popularity and the positive critical response to Flanagan’s modern adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, feverous anticipation and lofty expectations will surely swell as we get closer to Bly Manor‘s release date.
It’s important to note that it was specifically the creative freedom Flanagan was afforded with the production of Hill House which resulted in such a unique and quality series, and the same strategy could surely ensure a long and healthy franchise going forward. However, I still can’t help but throw in my two cents about what I’d like to see in the next season and beyond! The following is my personal wish list:
Keep It Classic
One of the things that made The Haunting of Hill House stand out from the competition was the fact that- despite the updated time period and settings- it’s deeply connected to the classic ghost stories of yesteryear. Flanagan achieved the perfect combination of old and new with his retelling of Jackson’s classic tale, and the old school scares mixed with his modern storytelling were a sight to behold. I’d like to see this formula applied to every future season in the franchise. The fact that the second season is based on a 122 year-old book means we have nothing to worry about for next season, and I hope Flanagan continues to draw inspiration from the famous “ghost”-writers of the past for years to come!
Familiar Faces… But Not Too Familiar!
The spectacle of performers returning to star in completely different episodes of horror anthology series has been a staple of the genre ever since William Shatner famously returned to the set of Twilight Zone for “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” after making his series debut in “Nick of Time.” The Haunting franchise should continue this tradition, as fans would surely be thrilled to witness the return of Victoria Pedretti or (longtime collaborator and spouse of Flanagan) Kate Siegel. The only caveat is The Haunting should exercise such returns of previous performers sparingly to avoid narrative burnout and keep from boxing itself into a certain format. It’s simply exhausting when the casting announcements for American Horror Story come out every year, and it’s the same old performers playing zanier versions of previous character archetypes from previous seasons. A few familiar faces once and a while can keep longtime fans engaged while still allowing opportunities for more diverse casting going forward to meet the needs of the production.
Spoiler alert: Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw‘s got some creepy kids in it! The only problem is, this overused trope has been played out to pure exhaustion in the century since it was written, and casual viewers aren’t really going to care that The Turn of the Screw did it first after suffering through such recent fare as The Prodigy. Hopefully, Flanagan will employ the same time-traveling narrative structure featured in Hill House to show this haunting in two or more distinctive time periods. The lives of the characters after the infamous haunting was a cornerstone of The Haunting of Hill House, and it could be applied to Bly Manor with similar results.
When It All Ties Together, It All Falls Apart
The beloved beginnings of any popular horror anthology will always inspire cries to return to where it all began… but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! Fans might think they want to see the lavish woodwork of the Murder House again, or witness a bombastic crossover between characters and worlds of previous popular stories, but The Haunting‘s contemporaries have proven that such stunts rarely-if ever- work. If I want to return to the dusty interiors of Hill House, I’ll go back and watch the first season again, thank you very much! Flanagan should keep his sights set firmly on the future in order to maintain the integrity of the past and to secure the future of The Haunting franchise.
Do you agree or disagree with my wish list, dear reader? Will The Haunting of Bly Manor end up heading in some of these directions, or will it fall into some of the trappings of its contemporaries? We’ll know soon enough when the season debuts in 2020. Stay tuned to Horror News Network for complete coverage of The Haunting series as soon as it breaks!