Mike Flanagan's Gothic Reimagining: The Fall of the House of Usher – A Masterpiece in Horror TV
If you haven’t heard of the name Mike Flanagan yet, then you are really missing out on not only some of the best horror stories of the last 10 years, but a new horror king who continues to blossom. If there is anyone looking to cancel their Netflix accounts after the news of the price increase and crack down of password sharing, you might wanna hold off on that unsubscribe option until you have feasted your eyes on the newly captivating biblically imparted gothic requiem that is The Fall of the House of Usher.
Flanagan has probably had the best run in the horror genre that any other filmmaker working today. His filmography includes adaptations of beloved Stephen King works, Gerlad’s Game and Doctor Sleep, to his own creations such as Absentia, Oculus, and Hush, most are aware of but it is television where he gets to fully embrace his biggest strengths. For House of Usher Flanagan once again dives into gothic literature, this time adapting the works of Edgar Allen Poe. For some, horror and gothic are interchangeable, but Flanagan carefully weaves the latter into everything from adapting the works of Shirly Jackson with The Haunting of Hill House, Henry James with The Haunting of Bly Manor, Christopher Pike with The Midnight Club, and even creating his own gothic tale with Midnight Mass. Flanagan gifts us gloomy settings, haunted locations, dreams and nightmares, an emotional and mental burden, a shroud of mystery, and a dark and stormy night that turns a typical horror story into one that is Gothic. Makes all the more sense for tackling this as his next project.
The concept of The Fall of the House of Usher is a simple one, the series follows Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) as the CEO of a powerful multi billion dollar pharmaceutical company that has been hit by scandal after scandal. Although he's made his wealth off of an opioid crisis, the morally bankrupt Roderick has recently experienced a more personal tragedy: all six of his children have died, one after the other, in rapid succession, and almost all in gruesome ways. Just as all of his previous works it has a staggering cast, starring Flanagan regulars such as Henry Thomas, Samatha Sloyan, Kate Siegel, Rahul Kohli, Kyleigh Curran, all as Rodericks family members and alongside them is the great Mark Hamill who makes his first appearance in Flanagan’s minions as the families menacing lawyer/fixer.
There is one central story linking the others together, each episode delves into the specific deaths of Roderick's children, giving us glimpses into their lives and showing us how they died. Linking all of these tragic events is a peripheral character who slowly makes her way into the center of the story: Carla Cugino’s threatening and beguiling Verna aka The Raven. Gugino is by far one of the most entertaining actors to watch on screen, offering an otherworldly charisma to an ominous demanding presence. She's also a harbinger of sorts who we slowly begin to understand more with each subsequent episode. The show has been compared highly to the recently ended HBO hit series Succession, just imagine if that show was not a prestige drama but a daytime soap opera packed with body horror. That’s the kind of tone you are in for with the Ushers.
House of Usher also likely marks the end of an era. For the last few years, Netflix subscribers have been able to enjoy a slowly growing collection of dramatic horror stories, each of which pushed Flanagan and his collaborators in slightly different but still familiar directions. This Poe reimagining marks Flanagan’s fifth and final Netflix series before he jumps to Amazon, and he’s certainly departing on a high. His work was never more impressive. Whether this seems like your kind of show or not at least it gives us all something juicy to watch this Halloween season!
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By Danny Manna @Cinemanna24