The Haunting of Bly Manor Creator Details Why It Isn't a Direct Adaptation of Source Material

With The Haunting of Hill House, creator Mike Flanagan largely stuck with the core concept of the novel upon which it was based by Shirley Jackson, but with the upcoming second season, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Flanagan had to make a number of changes from its inspiration, the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, which is largely due to how short that original story is. Rather than stretch out that narrative over the course of 10 episodes, Flanagan opted to embrace other corners of James' work for an amalgam storyline that serves more as an homage to the tone of that author as opposed to a direct adaptation.

“It’s not about doing a straight adaptation anymore – that’s already been done,” Flanagan shared with Mick Garris during a panel for the Fantasia International Film Festival. “We’d cover two episodes, and then we’d have eight episodes of filler.”

He noted, “I need to make a 10-hour version of this.”

While the most famous interpretation of The Turn of the Screw is 1961's The Innocents, the most recent adaptation landed in theaters just earlier this year in the form of The Turning.

The filmmaker went on to note that anyone familiar with James' work will notice that the titles of the episodes all come from stories crafted by the author to serve as an homage to his accomplished library of works.

“When the show launches, you’ll see each episode is actually the title of one of his stories," Flanagan confirmed. "They’re all braided together and made to work in one (hopefully) cohesive story.”

With more than a century having passed since The Turn of the Screw was originally released, the filmmaker did point out that one of the biggest ways in which the source material had to be altered was the language used in conversations.

“His language is not something that’s as easy to relate to for a contemporary reader or viewer. And certainly not easy to adapt,” Flanagan clarified. Despite the difficulties of literally adopting James' work, Flanagan noted that the author was clearly ahead of his time, detailing, “There’s a story Henry James wrote called 'The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,' which is a phenomenal short ghost story, and if you strip away all of the proper language and all of the context of the time, underneath it, you see the DNA of The Ring, The Grudge.

He added, "They’re all there. And he was one of the first to be playing with them.”

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The Haunting of Bly Manor is set to hit Netflix on October 9th.

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