Enlarge / The perpetually locked red door is a central mystery of Netflix’s adaptation of Haunting of Hill House.Steve Dietl/Netflix The Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House was a critical and ratings hit last year, and the streaming giant has announced plans for a second season—or more accurately, a second installment in what…


Enlarge/The perpetually locked red door is a central mystery of Netflix’s adaptation ofHaunting of Hill House.
Steve Dietl/Netflix

The Netflix adaptation ofThe Haunting of Hill Housewas a critical and ratings hit last year, and the streaming giant has announced plans for a second season—or more accurately, a second installment in what is now a horror anthology series. Deadline Hollywood reports that The Haunting of Bly Manor will adapt Henry James’ classic ghost story,The Turn of the Screw, which is very much in the same vein of psychological gothic horror as the classic Shirley Jackson tale upon which season one was based.

The Haunting of Hill Houseshared the top spot in Ars’ 2018 list of our favorite TV shows with BBC’sKilling Eve. We loved Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy’s inventive re-imagining of Jackson’s novel, at once a Gothic ghost story and a profound examination of family dysfunction. And yet it stayed true to the tone and spirit of the original, aided by dialogue, narration, and other small details from the source material. Small wonder that it garnered award nominations from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, Writers Guild of America, and Art Directors Guild.

Rumors of a possible second season began swirling soon after the series started streaming. Flanagan eventually confirmed plans to to turn it into a horror anthology series, with a whole new ghost story and fresh characters. (He opined in an interview withEntertainment Weeklythat the Crain family featured inHill Househad suffered enough.)

Past incarnations

      <p><em>The Turn of the Screw</em>, published serially in<em>Collier's Weekly</em>in 1898, tells the story of a governess hired to look after two orphaned children by their absent uncle at his Essex country house, Bly.<strong>(Beware: 121-year-old spoilers ahead.)</strong>Soon after arriving, the governess sees figures of a man and woman she suspects may be spirits. She learns from the grim housekeeper that her predecessor, Miss Jessel, had an affair with another servant, Peter Quint, and both died. They also seemed to have had an unhealthy attachment to the children, Flora and Miles, and the governess suspects the children can see the ghosts, too. Since it's Henry James, it all ends in tragedy.

Literary scholars and critics have been debating the novella ever since it was first published because James was deliberately ambiguous as to whether the governess is seeing actual ghosts or simply going mad and imagining them. That debate carried over to the 1961 British Film adaptation,The Innocents, starring Deborah Kerr—probably the best of the many versions of the tale that have been adapted for various media. The screenwriter, William Archibald, assumed the ghosts were real; the director, Jack Clayton, preferred to be true to James’ original ambiguity.

It’s far too soon to know much about how Flanagan and Macy will approach the material, but judging by their fantasticHill Houseadaptation, they may fall on the “the ghosts are real” side of the debate. But I’m confident they can also do justice to the psychological complexity and many subtexts of James’ novella, leaving just a bit of ambiguity to tantalize the viewer.

Netflix clearly shares that confidence, sinceThe Haunting of Bly Houseis part of a broader deal to produce original films and series. Flanagan and Macy are currently in post-production onDoctor Sleep, an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 follow-up toThe Shining. “Mike Flanagan and Trevor Macy are masterful at creating authentically frightening stories that leave audiences on the edge of their seats but unable to look away,” Cindy Holland, vice president of original content, told Deadline Hollywood. “We’re excited to continue our partnership with them onThe Hauntingseries and future projects to come.”

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