Reviews

“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” Short Review

After losing control of her material after her record label sold it for $300 million, Taylor Swift released her first re-recorded single, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” in 2021.

As a casual Swiftie, I was curious. After the first listen, I barely noticed a difference. After the third and fourth listens, I noticed and appreciated the little changes. The music was the same, but her vocals are more mature. The background vocals are now Swift, adding to that maturity.

Not much has changed, but I feel better supporting the artist instead of a label that Swift is not a part of.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” Is a Love Story I Didn’t Know I Needed

Almost two years after the release of “The Haunting of Hill House,” Mike Flanagan released another supernatural horror television show with “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” Although the two series are not related, fans will recognize some actors that make an appearance in “Bly Manor.” Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino and Kate Siegel all return as main characters in this series.

Based off of the works of Henry James, “The Haunting of Bly Manor” tells the story of Dani Clayton, an au pair who suffered a tragic loss in the United States and is looking for a new start in the United Kingdom. She soon finds work taking care of Miles and Flora Wingrave, two children who lost their parents and are living in the manor with their housekeeper, cook and gardener.

The story quickly starts to shift when Dani realizes that she is being haunted, not only by her personal tragedy, but the ghosts of Bly Manor.

This show is not your typical ghost story; it encompasses what it means to experience love, lust and loss. Early on, we learn the story of Rebecca Jessel and Peter Quint, Jessel was a previous au pair of the Wingraves who experienced a fate like no other. What started out as lust turned into an obsessive love, if there was even any love present between the pair. Even though their story is made out to seem as if it is just a glimpse into the history of Flora and Miles, it has deeper connotations once viewers learn about the history of the manor.

This show, much like “The Haunting of Hill House,” is able to quickly switch between time periods; having a whole episode dedicated to the history of the manor. This episode, titled “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” tells the story of Viola Lloyd, played by Kate Siegel, and how she cursed the manor in the 17th century so that anyone who dies will remain there forever. This is reminiscent of “The Haunting of Hill House,” if you die in the house you never leave.

This is a concept that many horror shows have attempted, but none of them have done it like either “Haunting” shows. Even though you expect these ghosts to remain in the house forever, you still get shocked when you discover that some of the main characters were ghosts all along. You still get shocked when a main character dies only to remain in the house forever.

As a fan of “Hill House,” I was excited for a new season that would be similar. Although “Bly Manor” is advertised as a horror show, it is more than that. Fans were disappointed when they discovered that the jump scares were not as scary and that it was, more or less, the same ghost story all over again. This time it featured a lasting romance, and a LGBTQ+ romance at that.

Although I wish the show had been a little scarier, that would have taken away from the romance that is much more important than any of the horror. It is more important for people who have experienced relational trauma to realize that you can still find love after the death of a loved one. It is more important for young girls and boys who question their sexuality that they should never have to settle and be with someone that they are not attracted to, just because that is the societal norm. Making sure that people understand this is more important than any jump scare a director would want to include.

From a technical standpoint, the actors did a great job. Victoria Pedretti deserves every award in the book for her portrayal of a grieving lover. Rahul Kohli, who plays Owen the chef, is the perfect choice to play a cheesy cook. Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays the role of an obsessive lover perfectly. Amelia Eve is the perfect depiction of a closed-off gardener who only opens up to her plants. Mike Flanagan did a perfect job when he chose to cast each and every actor for their respective roles.

It doesn’t matter what time period the show is set in — the set design, costumes as well as the music choices made it clear that we were looking through a lens into the 17th century or 1987. In true “Haunting” fashion, Flanagan thought of everything. He hid ghosts in every corner, so well that if you blinked you would miss them. Every detail, no matter how small, means something.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” is the perfect show for people who want a mix of horror, drama, mystery and love. I give it nine out of ten stars, and it is “perfectly splendid.”

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