The Haunting of Bly Manor is barely cold in the ground—it came out on October 9th—but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s done binging. I’ve already started thinking about another season. Which begs the question: what—and where—is it going to be?
The Haunting of Bly Manor and its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House, were the brainchildren of Mike Flanagan, an icon in the horror world. The first two series work off the same basic premise: the adaption of a classic horror novel into a modernized series of episodes that honor the gestalt of the original, but mess around with characters, plot, and time period. They’re adaptions in the finest sense of the word, because they honor the essences of the stories themselves, not just the mechanisms used to tell them.
The original subject matter needs to hold up—as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (the inspiration for Bly Manor) did. The first two seasons have storylines that are extremely tied to place, and the houses, whether you believe they’re haunted in a literal sense or not, are central characters. This means that the original source material should have a strong setting, something with plenty of mystery and character of its own.
There are plenty of worthy novels Flanagan and the crew could tackle next, and below, I present three candidates.
The Haunting at Manderley
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca isn’t exactly a ghost story, but it’s close enough. A woman marries an older gentleman she barely knows, around a year after his first wife (Rebecca) drowned. When she returns to his home, Manderley, traces of Rebecca are everywhere, from the hostile housekeeper who appears to resent the unnamed narrator’s intrusion to the mentally disabled man down on the shore whose fear of Rebecca has outlived her. Things begin to unravel, and the central question, at the end of the novel, is whether or not Rebecca, from beyond the grave, has won.
In a series adaption, the narrator would undoubtedly get a name (and I’d wager it’d be Daphne). Du Maurier has plenty of other writing to draw from in order to add trimmings to the plot, though Rebecca itself has enough to offer, particularly in the way of setting, including a hauntingly beautiful mansion with one wing closed off and a windswept cottage by the sea.
After his performance as Peter Quint, Oliver Jackson-Cohen is sure to do justice to the odious Maxim de Winter. Kate Siegel is a perfect Rebecca (the role almost seems made for her) for any flashback sequences, and the versatile Victoria Pedretti could easily portray the shy, nameless narrator.
Potential pitfalls of this idea include the fact that Netflix just gave us an adaption of Rebecca, a film of the same name that dropped this October. However, it’s lackluster and has gotten poor reviews, so a redux might be exactly what the story needs.
The Haunting of the Blasted Heath
I’m really big on adaptions of H.P. Lovecraft because his ideas are so intriguing but their execution is…so racist. Stuff like Lovecraft Country turns the old man on his head but still makes use of his settings and beasties, which are undeniably cool. And I love the concept of him turning in his grave at the idea of modernized, diversely-cast versions of his stories.
The good thing is that Lovecraft has an absolute wealth of stories to pick from. Few of them are enough on their own, but “The Colour Out of Space” might be a good jumping-off point. A tale concerning an accursed piece of land in Arkham, Massachusetts, the narrative could be molded to accommodate some characters made out of the whole cloth (since Lovecraft’s are rarely fleshed out) and connections to the Cthulhu myths, the Miskatonic University, and even the author himself, if we want to go full meta. Since we had Shirley in Hill House, I could see a doddering old man called Howard making an appearance somewhere in the series.
Leaning into the New England gothic and the Lovecraftian tradition, this series would have the potential to explore cosmic horror, something I’m very sure Flanagan is capable of doing.
The Haunting of the Overlook Hotel
Hear me out: The Shining is classic horror now. Published in 1980, it turned 40 years old this past August and has absolutely stood the test of time. However, Stephen King absolutely hated the Kubrick adaption of the book, and tried to reboot it with a miniseries that never quite got off the ground. His sequel, Doctor Sleep, snarkily refers to the original novel as “The true history of the Torrance family,” and in even characters in the Kingverse, like Holley Gibley, occasionally trash the film version.
Mike Flanagan actually helped King lay the stories to rest peacefully with his masterful adaption of Doctor Sleep, which [SPOILER ALERT] blends the ending of both novels, thus finely balancing the tasks of keeping the films canon with each other and honoring King’s wishes.
Considering the above, maybe we’d better let sleeping dogs lie, but if Uncle Stevie’s willing to try another adaption of the Overlook’s story, this time with a director he trusts, I think a tweaked and modernized version of The Shining could work well. The book is a sprawling piece with plenty of side plots that have to do with the history of the hotel. Following one of these and fitting the piece neatly in the Shining-verse canon is an option, as is rewriting and recasting Danny, Wendy, and Jack’s story and considering the series to exist in an alternate universe.
Since neither Kubrick’s mostly-faithful-but-missing-the-mark adaption and King’s incredibly detail-accurate series didn’t do the trick, third time might be the charm.
These are just three possible storylines, and there are plenty more novels just being to be adapted. Drop your own pitches in the comments!