With The Haunting of Hill House, viewers were given not only a riveting drama within a horrifying narrative, but fans saw themselves often rewatching the series due to director Mike Flanagan cleverly including a number of ghosts who were only barely visible in the background or in the outskirts of numerous scenes. Now that the follow-up season of the series, The Haunting of Bly Manor is available on Netflix, audiences might be similarly searching for background specters, but much like how the overall tone of the new season differs from the debut season, this new season took a slightly different approach to these figures.
WARNING: Potential spoilers below for The Haunting of Bly Manor
In The Haunting of Hill House, these "hidden" ghosts were used as set dressing, largely used to create the feeling of these spirits constantly existing in the home to evoke their omnipresence. The ghosts in Bly Manor, however, all have much more significance. Rather than remaining unidentified, virtually every specter that appears in the new season is ultimately explained, whether that be the creepy plague doctor lurking the grounds or the mysterious Lady of the Lake.
Creator Flanagan detailed this past August the difference in the approach to using background ghosts for the new season.
“We were just trying to hide faces and figures,” Flanagan revealed to Vanity Fair in regards to the first season's hidden ghosts. “This season we wanted our hidden elements to tell their own story. And very much unlike the first season, they’re actually going to be explained. By the end of the season, you’re going to know who they are and why they’re there.”
In this regard, the answer to whether or not there are "hidden ghosts" is a bit more complicated.
As far as whether or not we catch brief, blurred, or obscured glimpses of ghouls? Yes, there are subtle inclusions of such figures in hallways, outside of windows, or in the background of shots. However, it is difficult to call these figures "hidden" when, by the time you get to the end of the season, the history of each of these ghosts and their connection to the story is revealed. Some audiences would surely claim that these ghosts weren't at all hidden, serving more as foreshadowing than as set dressing, while others might note that any ghost that a character doesn't directly interact with is "hidden."
Complicating matters further is that there are some characters who play an important part in the overall story that the audience, or even the characters themselves, don't even realize are ghosts until the final episode, possibly making them the epitome of a "hidden" ghost.0comments
Ultimately, we can say that yes, there are "hidden" ghosts in this new season, which will hopefully encourage audiences to pay even closer attention to every frame of each episode, but they are utilized in a much different capacity from what we saw in The Haunting of Hill House. The Haunting of Bly Manor is now streaming on Netflix.
What do you think of the new season? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!