If you are in the mood for a Halloween treat in the form of a bingeworthy batch of horror episodes, you could do a whole lot worse than “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” even though it’s a year old. Directed by Mike Flannagan and available on Netflix, the nine-part series is an able retelling of Henry James’ classic ghost story, “The Turn of the Screw.”

The series is, in my opinion, the best kind of horror film. Rather than indulge itself in grim spectacles of bodily harm or poorly realized monsters, Bly Manor uses the power of suggestion to create and sustain an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. It reminds you that there are many different kinds of ghosts, and the scariest ones are the hardest to see.

I’ll never forget the first time I read “The Turn of the Screw.” I was a freshman in college, and I made the mistake of reading it alone in the library basement late at night. The story itself is an effective hair-raiser, but what was really scary was how the book conveys the sense that something is wrong, not only in the story, but in the world itself. The book doesn’t have a satisfying conclusion and it leaves us asking more questions than we started with.

It’s hard to say even exactly what happens in the story. Here’s what we know for sure. The story is set in England, where a young woman is hired as a governess to a pair of young orphans who live in the country in a house called Bly. The governess is hired by the children’s uncle, who doesn’t want to be bothered with their upbringing unless it’s a matter of life and death. She arrives at Bly and is overwhelmed by the beauty and the grandeur of the estate. She is a poor girl suddenly in charge of a rich country house. Things at Bly are very nice, at first — perhaps a little too nice. The children are sweet — perhaps a little too sweet. Before long, things start getting weird.

What seems to be the central horror of the story is that everyone is performing more than their expected role. The governess is essentially an employee, at best a teacher, and yet she is functioning as the children’s primary caregiver and mistress of the house. The children, newly orphaned, have gone from carefree children to being their own masters. (Although the governess is technically in charge of them, they are far richer and more important than her, and they know it.) Meanwhile, the house seems to be haunted by two former servants, Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Whether these two specters are genuine ghosts or fired former employees returned uninvited, is unclear. Either way, the governess isn’t cool with it, and the increasing evidence of their presence begins to unhinge her. But something is wrong with the kids too. Are they evil or just possessed? Are they just too grown-up? It may be only that they are infected with dangerous ideas about class equality and human sexuality. The book came out 120 years ago and scholars are still bickering about what exactly the ending is, let alone what it means.

Personally, I find the lack of closure far more thrilling than any simple conclusion. How many good tales prove finally to be flat and unsatisfying once every question is answered and tied neatly with a bow? It’s so much more fun to walk away from a story arguing with yourself or your friends about what, exactly, it was that just happened. That’s the spirit that makes us like scary stories, or it should be.

If you don’t feel like reading the book, you should at least watch the television series. “The Haunting of Bly Manor” is true to the spirit of the novella in all the best ways, while adding inventive twists that freshen and deepen the original story. Set in the Britain of the 1980s, it follows Dani, a young American teacher-turned-au-pair who’s running from her own daemons back at home. Most of the story unfolds just as it does in “The Turn of the Screw” except with richer back stories for characters like the housekeeper, Mrs. Grosse, and the children’s uncle. But a notable new storyline forms the center of Bly Manor, a fairly original gothic plot that connects the contemporary events at Bly with its early history in the 16th century. How it all comes together is too good to give away here, so you’ll just have to watch it.

Some people don’t like the endless remaking of old stories. “We already have ‘The Turn of the Screw’,” they say, “so why do we need Bly Manor?” But I like remakes and sequels because they show me that there is something real enough about that narrative world that we can reinhabit it and portray it anew again and again as we learn and grow.

Bly Manor and “The Turn of the Screw” are both ghost stories where it turns out the real ghost is our mind. Sometimes we are haunted by the memories of loved ones or the injustices of the past. We can be haunted alike by the things we have done and the things we have failed to do. We can reread an old book with new eyes and realize that we aren’t who we used to be. As I reread “The Turn of the Screw” last week, I was haunted by the memory of myself at 21, reading it for the first time. That young idiot is long gone, but who’s this new shade that’s replaced him?

Under all the layers of the story at Bly, there is one constant ghost, that of Henry James, the writer. We will never really know his true intentions and meanings. He left us with a mystery, a mystery we can discuss and share until all the answers are revealed to us.

W. W. Matteson is a writer who lives in Hope, where he weaves tales about Maine’s coast and mountains.

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