How to build a haunted house: On set of Netflix horror anthology The Haunting of Bly Manor

Bly Manor’s entry approach. 

Eike Schoter/Netflix

Bly Manor does not look haunted — in actual life, at the least. The rooms are spacious and tastefully embellished, with wooden paneling and vintage furnishings. The kitchen is brightly lit with white tile and mossy inexperienced cupboards. The steps are vast. 

But when the portraits on the partitions appear to stare at you for somewhat too lengthy, or that stairway within the kitchen is just a bit too eerie, you may all the time search for on the ceiling of the sound stage and remind your self the place you actually are. 

That is  a haunted home, deconstructed, scattered throughout about 5  totally different levels, plus an exterior location that may persuade viewers it is truly a grand outdated British property courting again to the 1600s. Right here, on the set of the primary ground of the home, one of many central areas for brand spanking new Netflix horror anthology The Haunting of Bly Manor, the key to creating a haunted home is forgetting in regards to the haunted half. 

“I attempt to make units which can be lovely and someplace that you’d truly prefer to dwell,” says Patricio Farrell, set designer for The Haunting of Bly Manor. 

It is January in Vancouver, Canada, earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, and Farrell and set decorator Mark Lane are main a tour, going room to room, from the big entry approach, to the eating room, an workplace, a portrait-lined hallway, a classroom and a kitchen seemingly bigger than some huge metropolis studio residences. 

The Haunting of Bly Manor, streaming now, relies on ghost tales by 19th century creator Henry James, notably Flip of the Screw. On this adaptation, a younger American girl turns into an au pair for a brother and sister who misplaced their mother and father and dwell at Bly Manor. The home, with its manicured gardens, initially appears idyllic for the younger girl, however she rapidly learns there’s one thing sinister beneath the floor. 

Early within the present, the voice over describes Bly Manor as a “good and great spot” that “yawned to welcome her residence.” It is also the type of home the place “the rooms have been bigger at night time.”

People have suspected buildings of being haunted for hundreds of years. Historic Roman lawyer and author Pliny the Younger wrote a couple of home in Athens the place supposedly the ghost of an outdated man rattled chains and was typically so unpleasant the home was finally deserted. Victorian houses particularly have grow to be go-tos for paranormal exercise in literature and popular culture.

“It is the place the place we’re purported to be the most secure,” says present creator Mike Flanagan, describing the continued fascination with experiencing hauntings at residence. “Homes have lives… they’ll carry echoes of what is gone in there earlier than. That fascination with who’s lived in an area we’re inhabiting earlier than we acquired there’ll by no means actually exit of favor, as a result of who does not get up of their home in some unspecified time in the future at three a.m. and marvel if someone else is watching them?” 


Some rooms will all the time be creepy, just like the basement.

Eike Schoter/Netflix

In designing Bly Manor, Farrell appeared to structure in Scotland and elsewhere across the UK. He concocted a backstory not talked about within the present, that the home has been constructed on outdated Roman ruins and constructed the basement with that in thoughts. 

As Farrell notes, between basements and attics, there are just a few rooms that may all the time be creepy.

He additionally needed to look to the newer previous. The Haunting of Bly Manor is about within the 1980s, which means that amid all of the antiques, you may spot a lamp or kitchen telephone clearly not authentic to the home. Lane talks about scouring vintage retailers for objects, in addition to both renting or constructing no matter they may want, together with customized designing all of the window therapies. 

A number of of the fireplaces truly work, and a few of the decanters positioned in varied rooms have precise alcohol in them. Farrell and Lane aren’t telling which of them. 

When constructing Bly Manor, there was additionally the query of methods to differentiate it from season 1 of The Haunting of Hill Home, which blended Roman, Gothic and Tudor structure. And whereas within the first season, the decor masked hidden ghosts, luring the background, season two’s home did not must.

“We relied on quite a lot of wainscot and wallpaper in every single place, and [were] all the time looking for wallpaper that both had or could possibly be prefer it had a face,” Farrell says. There’s much less of that this time round. 

After which there’s that big kitchen, with a fire so massive it could possibly be a room of its personal. Lurking dying apart, it is fairly Instagramable. 

“The kitchen is, like for thus many people, the soul of the home,” Farrell says, “Season 1 was slightly small, so this one is the revenge of the kitchen.” 

So, Bly Manor is not actually haunted. In the event you look intently on the elements of the set the place Bly meets building challenge, you may see screws and velcro. The small courtyard is simply across the nook from the craft providers desk. There are cables on the ground. And a few of the partitions do transfer, however solely to accommodate cameras filming cramped photographs. 

“Generally when you have got this identical area with loads much less mild and also you see a toddler, or somebody strolling alone, the dimensions itself makes it spooky,” Farrell says, “I am not attempting to make a spooky home.”

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Erin Carson