Criticism | The Curse of Bly Mansion creates horror with psychological responsibility


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Do justice to all the qualities of The Curse of Bly Mansion would make this text a true treatise, not only because it is a story told in nine episodes, but because there is much to talk about literary adaptation, about terror itself, about technical excellence and, of course, about the stories that develop among the living. In the new series, which is a sequence of The Curse at Hill Residence, ghosts are a very important element and from where we get a good part of our fear, but all of this is a delicious bait for one of the best love stories we’ve seen to date.

The Curse of Bly Mansion made me understand better what is common in my favorite movies about love, in the case Love, by Michael Haneke, e The Lobster, by Yorgos Lanthimos: the non-romanticization of love. Loving someone and keeping in mind that you, for one reason or another, can lose that someone, makes love an act of courage in the face of the terror of loss. The Netflix series explores all the main faces of these losses, all with a very responsible psychology, showing that it is possible to educate with art and, in addition, that it is possible to make incredible and correct works (at least in the eyes of the discussions we have today) .

The series is exquisite terror, perfectly splendid, which manages to insert a series of teachings, showing us the paths we can follow and possibilities for solving problems in our personal relationships. No character is shallow and unfolding, which makes us cling even to villains, a Rousseauian declaration that we are born good and are corrupted throughout our lives. In terms of approach, The Curse of Bly Mansion is the equivalent of Sex Education in terror: a beautiful story to be followed and, at the same time, a manual of life, about human relations.

Image: Playback / Netflix

Attention! From here, the review may contain spoilers.

Or terror, or horror

Some authors tend to differentiate between terror and horror, and the dictionary (in this case, here, I used Priberam) helps us to think a little more about this difference, which can shed light on the type of terror that is The Curse of Bly Mansion:

ter · ror | ô |
(Mulligan alarm, -oris)
masculine noun
1. Great fear. = P NICO, PAVOR
2. Quality of what is terrible.
3. What terrifies, terrifies.

hor · ror | cell |
(Latin horror, -oris, goosebumps, curl, agitation, shudder, goosebumps, tremor, terror, fear)
masculine noun
1. Feeling of fear that makes hair and skin prickle.
2. Repulsion (for what we consider hideous or horrendous).
3. Horrible thing.
4. Horrible show.

These definitions indicate the difference between a work of terror that scares us through the expectation, of what is to come, what happens much more in suspense narratives; and the work of horror, whose fear, estrangement, disgust and all sorts of reactions of this type arise after seeing something. The Curse of Bly Mansion plays a lot with these two ways of reaching us, preferring much more to the possibilities of the second. Although I do not use this distinction much, it is important to understand the depth of horror in the face of terror.

Following these definitions, even the best horror films are not able to haunt us except with the images from the film itself. Our fear of the unknown is what moves us through films as the landmark The Blair Witch, which, by not showing us anything really concrete about the creature, forces our imagination to think about what would be worse for ourselves if we were in the place of the characters. Other films, which do not intend to hide much of what is happening, such as Midsummer, act on us from the consequences. It is no longer the fear of what may happen, but the disgust for what is happening or, therefore, the horror.

Image: Playback / Netflix

The first episodes of the new attraction are mostly horror: the expectation that something bizarre will happen, followed by incredible revelations and that are generally great because they are something completely different from the clichés that we normally see in ghost stories. A good example is the moment of the hide-and-seek game (which in itself is frightening), when Flora sees the ghost behind her and reacts with a simple request for silence. The terror of expectation is created by the blurred creature that moves behind Flora and ends when the child is not afraid and shows us that we should not fear him either.

The horror, however, is not that of the curse or the ghosts. We know the story by its effects: the strange things that happen, the children’s behavior, the strange deaths that surround them, etc. As the characters, including the most supporting ghosts, gain layers and we begin to understand what led each to certain attitudes, terror begins to become increasingly scarce and we find ourselves proportionately attached to the drama, with fear decreasing with each episode. Scary ghosts become people trapped in limbo, caused by a story to which they had no connection whatsoever. With each new revelation, with each deepening of the characters, also a new opportunity to show the power of the cast: all the actors, including the children’s cast, are excellent.

The ending reveals to us that the ghost story, in short, is a novel. Just as terror is linked to the unknown and so is fear, and as we understand and understand what happened, that feeling disappears, giving rise to a horror of what we don’t want in our lives or the horror of loss and, more common than haunted mansions, are human relationships.

Image: Playback / Netflix


We have observed, for decades and even in many contemporary films, how Ad Astra, a very poor psychologism and supported by Freudian studies, which, let’s face it, has its importance, but is already quite outdated. This type of psychologism has generated films that have recreated stereotypes over many years and it is not difficult, in older films, to determine who are the bad guys and who are the good guys from a mere analysis of stereotypes.

Contemporary cinema (and I call The Curse of Bly Mansion of cinema, because there is nothing that distinguishes one format from the other but the fact that one of them is a series – and who has never seen a film in several parts that throws the first stone) no longer admits that. The revolution we see is not just one of representativeness (something that the series also does in an incredible way), but of a refusal of the harmful stereotypes that are often reproduced in horror films.

Of course there are stereotypes in the series, but there is an understanding that people in these stereotypes are not all the same. Peter and Henry, which correspond to patterns seen in several works, gain dimensions as to why they are like that and, even if we can predict what they will do, the series itself had already used the breaches of expectation of terror to leave us in doubt about the unfolding of the characters. The Curse of Bly Mansion still resumes the stereotype of a betrayed woman who, by pain, haunts a place almost in the same sense as the popularized legend of Or scream. On the other hand, the writers took advantage of the extended time span of the series to add layers to the character and show us that she herself, through her own vanities and unknowingly, placed her soul in the position of a ghost and a curse.

Image: Playback / Netflix

Unlike the old psychologism, which transformed characters into formulas, The Curse of Bly Mansion accompanies other recent productions that, as it does most shamelessly Sex Education, wonderfully educates viewers on complex issues that generate long-term psychological maladjustments. The death of the children’s parents did not affect them to the point of making them bad, which did it, were the bad influences, made concrete through the real influence of ghosts on children, which is a good example of how the formats are changing . As Sex Education, The Curse of Bly Mansion it teaches us that people are not simple and it still gives us many samples of how to deal with these complexities, a much more useful absorption of psychology.

Romance at last

The Curse of Bly Mansion it is an excellent novel, because it uses terror as a metaphor, but the fact that it is, in short, a story about love stories, does not make the series any less terrifying. The terror of ghosts makes room for the horror of the loss that we witness in the characters through our empathy, and makes us aware of this, in different ways, through different types of loves and relationships. This horror of what happened to them makes room for real terror in our lives, that we can lose the people we love. The series, however, not only leaves us with this, but gives us ways to deal with this mourning (of people living or dead) and still offers us ways to prepare for it in a future that we do not know when it will arrive.

The series also deals with bad forms of love, especially that of possession, represented by Peter and Viola, who are also the biggest cause of problems. These problems, which are solved through real bonds of love, true and sincere relationships, in which feelings are exposed without constraint and in which people treat each other with understanding and empathy. With the understanding of this good that is love, comes the terror of lack. The Curse of Bly Mansion it is not a terror to have nightmares, it is a horror that makes us cry because we want to be better than we are and to value the people we love.

The Curse of Bly Mansion is available to all Netflix subscribers.

* This text does not necessarily reflect Canaltech’s opinion.

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