Luckily for Flanagan, there are enough Victorian ghost stories to riff off of, he could probably catch up to “American Horror Story” if he put his mind to it.
Maybe he’d be interested in writing about a sweet orphan who lives in a blustery mansion haunted by ghost children? There’s a story about that. Or if he wanted to focus on the plight of a mean bachelor who is haunted by the ghostly rickshaw of a dead lover? There’s a story about that, too. And if he was in the mood for something involving a group of friends who decide to host a sleepover in a deeply haunted mansion just for kicks? You guessed it — there’s a creepy Victorian story about that, too.
Of course, none of those stories are as famous as Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” or Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw,” which influenced the first and second “Haunting” seasons respectively. If Flanagan was willing to move outside of strictly ghost stories, it would be incredible to see what he could do with a full horror version of Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre,” (The Haunting of Thornfield Hall, anyone?) which is filled with strange visions and women hidden away in attics. Or even something a little more surreal like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which is a terrifying exploration of trauma and women’s roles in Victorian society.
Until inspiration hits, we’ll just have to settle for what Flanagan has given us: A new Netflix miniseries, a bevy of streaming movies, and two beautifully moody “Haunting” seasons. What more can a ghost ask for?