As someone who is a HUGE fan of almost all of Mike Flanagan’s works, I think you can safely presume that I absolutely loved Netflix’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher. In fact, dare I say that this horror series on Netflix might be one of Mike Flanagan’s best work yet!
A love letter to several short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall Of The House Of Usher is a spine-chilling horror series that shows how a once-powerful and wealthy family come face to face with their ruins, and the supernatural forces that seem to haunt them for sinister reasons.
The story follows Roderick Usher, the patriarch of the family and the owner of one of the largest and most influential pharmaceutical companies, Fortunato, which made waves in the healthcare industry by introducing a drug to end all pain. It’s made very clear from the beginning of the show that this drug, named Ligadone, might be the best painkiller but it has also completely destroyed the lives of millions of people seeing as how it is based on opioids. It’s also made clear from the very first episode that something or someone is haunting both Fortunato and the powerful Usher family.
The real question is why?
~The Fall Of The House Of Usher Netflix Review~
What’s really magnificent about The Fall Of The House Of Usher is how cleverly Flanagan crafted a very unique story about a powerful, scandalous and wealthy family, and then tied each family member’s story to different novellas written by Edgar Allan Poe. Every episode in the series combines some elements from Poe’s short stories and cleverly adapts into the stories of Flanagan’s own unique characters.
And what an amazing cast of characters they are! Rich people are generally difficult to like, but the Ushers in particular are absolutely despicable. Even though some of Roderick’s children are seemingly involved with meaningful pursuits using their family’s wealth–his eldest, Tamarlane is an entrepreneur attempting to make her own name with an exclusive lifestyle brand while Victorine is a talented surgeon trying to change healthcare with an innovative “smart heart” implants.
And yet, not a single one of his children pass the test for basic decency and are so incredibly despicable that at some points, you would not actually mind that they meet such gruesome deaths.
But that’s also where the intrigue of The Fall Of The House Of Usher is. There are plenty of despicable rich families around the world. So why are the Ushers in particular being haunted? And what exactly is haunting them?
What’s really satisfying about this show, is that in the universe of The Fall Of The House Of Usher, we are led to believe that the rich and the corrupted don’t always get away with it. Every single episode, one Usher after another dies. And in every episode, we get to see the supernatural force haunting them explain why and how their own actions and choices led to such bloody and gruesome ends for them.
When it comes to suspense and thrill, The Fall Of The House Of Usher is steeped heavily in it. There’s the classic gothic horror and mystery you would expect from a work based on Edgar Allan Poe’s novellas, and the cinematography, direction, and soundtrack all contribute to storytelling that is both creepy enough to make you feel uncomfortable watching this show alone in a darkened room.
But for the horror aspects, I would say that The Fall Of The House Of Usher mostly employs jumpscares. The actual horror of the story isn’t the supernatural here though–the true horror in this series is simply the greed and ruthlessness of people willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top.
As always with all of Mike Flanagan’s work, there are overarching themes in The Fall Of The House Of Usher. While many of his previous works such as the Haunting of Bly Manor explored themes of grief, death and mourning, this particular series on Netlflix explores the opioids crisis and the fundamental issues surrounding the pharmaceutical industry–how it exists not to serve the population but to fill the linings of the pockets of a select few.
What really caught my eye though was how Flanagan explores this theme in what seemed like an unusual way for him–The Fall Of The House Of Usher has to be one his most uniquely satirical and salacious works yet. It was unexpected for me, and I definitely enjoyed how he took a slightly different approach in telling this brand of horror story.
And of course, the cast was SUPERB. There’s something inexplicably satisfying about seeing the recurring, familiar faces of what fans are calling Mike Flanagan’s Cinematic Universe. And although the entire cast gave a fantastic performance, it really was Carla Gugino who absolutely stole the show.
From being scared and wary of her character to starting to actual root for her, Cara Gugino’s portrayal of Verna, the supernatural entity haunting The Fall Of The House Of Usher, was absolutely phenomenal.
I’ll end my review by saying this: once again, Mike Flanagan has made Halloween so much better! So if you are still on the fence about watching The Fall Of The House Of Usher on Netflix, don’t wait, go give it a try. It’s worth several rewatches and is hands down one of the best horror series I have ever watched till date.