The Fall Of The House Of Usher review: Mike Flanagan’s Netflix era ends on a macabre high

the fall of the house of usher review
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Mike Flanagan wraps up his tenure at Netflix with his most audacious and delightfully weird series yet. Read our full The Fall Of The House Of Usher review. 

Mike Flanagan has had an incredible successful stint at Netflix. He’s spearheaded four major TV shows for the streaming service and at least two of them (The Haunting Of Hill House and Midnight Mass, in case you were curious) are straight up masterpieces.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher might be the filmmaker’s final series for Netflix before he moves on to Amazon Studios and to work on his next film, starring Tom Hiddleston, and it’s notably different from anything Flanagan has done before. But believe us when we say: you’re going to love it. 

Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s body of work, The Fall Of The House Of Usher is about exactly what you think it might be; the house of Usher is falling, fast. At the beginning of the very first episode, all six of the Usher family offspring are dead as doornails. The patriarch of the family, Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood, replacing Frank Langella after allegations of abusive behaviour), is grieving his children, but decides to relay his story to an old friend and prosecutor, Auggie Dupin (Carl Lumbly). 

fall of the house of usher

Credit: Netflix

The eight-episode series then unfolds in a couple of timelines. One follows young Roderick (now played by Zach Gilford) and his sister Madeline (Willa Fitzgerald as a young woman and Mary McDonnell as an older version of the character) as they navigate their way in the world and the main timeline follows the events told to Auggie by Roderick, including all the grisly ways his children die, one by one. 

Part of the charm of The Fall Of The House Of Usher is just how seamlessly and effortlessly Flanagan weaves together different time periods and circumstances. The series never feels convoluted, even if it is a little breathless at times. Each episode, most of them with a runtime of about an hour, is packed with information and plot with barely any time to breathe. 

It’s also an awfully crowded show. There are roughly 13 principal characters and while each of the kids (and their deaths) get an episode almost completely devoted to them, so there simply isn’t enough time to develop anyone properly. What exactly does Rahul Kohli’s Leo do apart from something vague to do with video games? Camille insists her assistant serve her in every way – what’s that all about? T’Nia Miller, once again, gets perhaps the most shocking conclusion to her character arc, as she did in The Haunting Of Bly Manor. 

The Fall of the House of Usher adopts a “death of the week” type approach, which gets repetitive quickly, but thankfully, all the deaths are suitably gory and disturbing enough that Flanagan gets away with it. The Fall Of The House Of Usher is a lot more fun than any of Flanagan’s previous works. Whereas The Hauntings of Hill House and Bly Manor might have made you weep, this one aims to make you cackle with glee. And dear reader, it succeeds in it spectacularly. 

Despite its rather obvious flaws, The Fall Of The House Of Usher is top notch telly. It’s macabre, seductive and completely addictive. I generally enjoy weekly releases for TV shows but I was most grateful for the opportunity to devour all eight episodes in rapid succession. I was deeply immersed in the twisted, dark world and family matters of the Ushers. For Poe fanatics, Flanagan’s show offers much. The Fall Of The House Of Usher mixes and matches several of Poe’s characters and stories into a dizzying mix of references, but it’s equally enjoyable if you’re not that well-versed in Poe’s works (I wasn’t, either). 

It might not quite reach the highs of Hill House or the pure artistry of Midnight Mass, but The Fall Of The House Of Usher is certainly the most fun Mike Flanagan has had with a TV show. Filled with fantastic performances and all the gore you could ever want (if that’s your sort of thing), this is horror television at its very, very best. 

The Fall Of  The House Of Usher is streaming on Netflix on 12 October. 

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