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18 Sly Easter Eggs Tucked Away in The Haunting of Bly Manor

Oct 20 2020 - 11:53am

The Haunting of Bly Manor [1] is a well-crafted horror masterpiece with compelling tragedies and beautiful acting. It's also, simply put, a fun time, coming with not only spooky hidden ghosts [2] but also plenty of Easter eggs to enjoy! In the miniseries, pop culture references are as bountiful as Chef Owen's puns [3]. The writers meticulously studied the works of Henry James and dropped literary allusions all throughout the storyline. You won't find a shortage of Hill House references [4] either, especially throwbacks to gut-wrenching lines that'll make you gently weep "O Willow Waly" into the night. Did you catch all of the greatest Easter eggs in The Haunting of Bly Manor? No worries if you haven't — we've rounded up an exhaustive list of sly references tucked away [5] in the limited series!

Room 217 in Stephen King's The Shining

Before setting off for Bly Manor, Dani emerges from a flat with the room number 217. Stephen King devotees may recognize this as the room number in the creepy Overlook Hotel [6] from the book version of The Shining. Mike Flanagan, the creator of the Haunting anthology series, also directed Doctor Sleep [7], the follow-up to The Shining. The Stanley Kubrick film doesn't feature the number 217, but rather 237 — the lodge where the movie was shot requested this change [8] due to worries that people wouldn't want to stay in room 217 after seeing the movie.

Creepy Kids From Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw plays a significant part [9] in The Haunting of Bly Manor. The book's plot similarly follows a new governess taking care of orphaned kids whose uncle doesn't want to deal with them. Like the kids in the novella, Flora and Miles are cursed by the ghosts of Rebecca Jessel [10] and Peter Quint.

"O Willow Waly" From The Innocents

The song "O Willow Waly" is haunting and creepy all by itself, but it's the stuff of nightmares when superimposed over the horrors at Bly Manor. The storyteller recites its lines, Flora hums it, the music box plays it, and Viola sings it. While it gives off major cursed-ancient-nursery-rhyme vibes, it was actually written by Georges Auric and Paul Dehn for the 1961 film The Innocents (which is also inspired by The Turn of the Screw).

Olivia Crain's "You're Expected" Line From Hill House

When Dani arrives at Bly, Flora tells her, "You're expected." This is exactly what Olivia Crain tells her daughter, Nell, on her last night at their cursed home in The Haunting of Hill House. This subtle line is a hint to astute viewers that all is not perfectly splendid with Flora.

The Conflicted Son From Henry James's Owen Wingrave

Bly Manor's resident punny chef [11] is inspired by a Henry James short story called Owen Wingrave. Yes, Owen's last name is Sharma here, and Wingrave is Henry's family name. But Owen Wingrave does follow a man who has to strike a balance between his needs and his family's desires. Whereas the short story's Owen abandons his military education, the show's studies in Paris to become a chef.

The Replica Forever House From Hill House

Flora's creepy (but low-key helpful [12]) dollhouse is a replica of Bly Manor. Likewise, Shirley Crain keeps a model of Olivia's forever house. Both are pretty spooky, but mostly sentimental.

The "Welcome Home Nell" Message From Hill House

While Miles is at boarding school, Flora sends him a drawing and letter that reads "COME HOME." This is a wink to the "Welcome Home Nell" (originally thought to be "Come Home Nell") message scrawled on the wall in The Haunting of Hill House. Creepy! (But mostly sad.)

Matt Smith's Doctor From Doctor Who

Flanagan is a notorious Whovian. The most direct Doctor Who reference in Bly Manor is the outfit that Owen wears to his mother's funeral — a tweed jacket with a distinguished bow tie. Matt Smith's version of the Doctor is famous for saying that "bow ties are cool." (As confirmation, actor Rahul Kohli [13], who plays Owen, tweeted [14] that this outfit choice was a direct reference to the Doctor.) We also see Miles wearing a bow tie when he and Flora perform for the staff.

The Lion Doorknobs From Hill House

Viewers might notice that Bly Manor has lion knockers. This is a subtle nod to the lion knobs in The Haunting of Hill House. This detail pays homage to the Shirley Jackson novel [15] that inspired Hill House — in it, Eleanor fondly pays attention to stone lions while driving.

Mary Poppins

Jamie affectionately calls Dani "Poppins" throughout Bly Manor. It's not too hard to decode that this nickname comes from Mary Poppins [16], the magical Disney nanny famously portrayed by Julie Andrews. Unmistakably, the pet name is due to the fact that Dani is the kids' governess.

The Ghost From Henry James's Sir Edmund Orme

Episode four unfolds the tragic story of Edmund O'Mara [17], Dani's childhood sweetheart and former fiancé. Dani breaks off their engagement right before a truck hits a very distraught Edmund. In Henry James's Sir Edmund Orme, the story's narrator falls for one Charlotte Marden. He sees the ghost that has long haunted Charlotte's mother, a man named Edmund Orme whom Mrs. Marden dumped. Likewise, Dani is haunted by her former lover and keeps seeing him with flashing glasses.

The Bent-Neck Lady From Hill House

Yes, there are totally similarities between sweet Nell Crain and the tightly wound Henry Wingrave. In episode six, Henry's menacing alter ego bends down on him the same way that the Bent-Neck Lady looks down at little Nell in The Haunting of Hill House. And as it turns out, the Bent-Neck Lady [18] is none other than Nell herself . . . much like how Henry haunts himself.

Hugh Crain's "I Can Fix It" Line From Hill House

In episode six, Charlotte meets with Henry one last time before she leaves for India with Dominic. She tearfully apologizes for not telling him that Flora is his daughter. When Charlotte is about to bid Henry goodbye, she tells him, "I can fix it," referring to her marriage and family. This is a reference to Hugh Crain's "I can fix it" catchphrase all throughout The Haunting of Hill House. Of course, Hugh can't fix everything, and Charlotte ends up dying in an accident abroad.

The Crains' Forever House From Hill House

In episode seven, Peter Quint explains the idea of the forever house to the children, who, according to his plan, would eternally be tucked away into memories. In The Haunting of Hill House, Olivia Crain actually talks to her husband about building a forever home after they finish fixing up Hill House. (Hill House, however, does become their forever home, for better or for worse.)

The Sisters From Henry James's The Romance of Certain Old Clothes

The story of Viola and Perdita [19] in episode eight is pretty much a dead ringer for Henry James's The Romance of Certain Old Clothes. The only difference is that the roles of the sisters are reversed in the original story. (Perdita is actually the embittered, vengeful one.)

Nell Crain's "The Rest Is Confetti" Line From Hill House

Hannah eventually comes to terms with the fact that she's a ghost. As the ghosts are about to disappear, she requests that Henry (who is tugging between life and death) repeat to Owen, "Tell him I love him. And the rest, well . . . it's just . . ."

The rest, Flanagan confirmed on Twitter [20], is just confetti. This is an allusion to Nell's poignant speech [21] to her siblings when they're all together in the very last episode of The Haunting of Hill House: "I loved you completely. And you loved me the same. That's all. The rest is confetti."

Olivia Crain's Threatening Dream in Hill House

In the very last episode, Dani and Jamie are perfectly content in America until the Lady in the Lake [22] re-emerges. Right before Dani leaves for Bly, she finds herself overtaken by Viola, who causes her to almost choke Jamie in bed. Likewise, Olivia holds a screwdriver to her husband after a nightmare at Hill House.

The Doomed Protagonist From Henry James's The Beast in the Jungle

After letting the Lady in the Lake into herself [23], Dani refers to Viola's vengeful presence as a beast in a jungle. The last episode, "The Beast in the Jungle," shares its name with a Henry James novella that follows John Marcher, a man who awaits his impending doom. While Marcher isn't able to live life with dread hanging over him, Dani spends meaningful time with Jamie.


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