On set with The Haunting of Bly Manor: How to build a haunted house

Bly Manor’s entry manner. 

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 extensive. 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’ll be able to at all times 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 can persuade viewers it is truly a grand previous 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 new Netflix horror anthology The Haunting of Bly Manor, the key to creating a haunted home is forgetting concerning the haunted half. 

“I attempt to make units which are lovely and someplace that you’d truly wish to stay,” 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 massive entry manner, to the eating room, an workplace, a portrait-lined hallway, a classroom and a kitchen seemingly bigger than some huge metropolis studio flats. 

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

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

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

“It is the place the place we’re presupposed to be the most secure,” says present creator Mike Flanagan, describing the continuing fascination with experiencing hauntings at dwelling. “Homes have lives… they are going to 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 bought there’ll by no means actually exit of fashion, as a result of who does not get up of their home sooner or later at three a.m. and surprise if any individual else is watching them?” 


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

Eike Schoter/Netflix

In designing Bly Manor, Farrell seemed 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 previous Roman ruins and constructed the basement with that in thoughts. 

As Farrell notes, between basements and attics, there are just a few rooms that can at all times be creepy.

He additionally needed to look to the more moderen previous. The Haunting of Bly Manor is about within the 1980s, which means that amid all of the antiques, you’ll be able to spot a lamp or kitchen cellphone clearly not unique to the home. Lane talks about scouring vintage outlets 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 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 need to.

“We relied on lots of wainscot and wallpaper in every single place, and [were] at all times looking for wallpaper that both had or might 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 might be a room of its personal. Lurking demise apart, it is fairly Instagramable. 

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

So, Bly Manor is not actually haunted. Should you look intently on the elements of the set the place Bly meets development venture, you’ll be able to 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 pictures. 

“Generally when you’ve gotten this identical house with rather a lot much less gentle and also you see a toddler, or somebody strolling alone, the size itself makes it spooky,” Farrell says, “I am not making an attempt to make a spooky home.”

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Erin Carson