(Photo courtesy of: Vanity Fair) “‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ combines great acting with creative writing and direction.”
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is writer and director Mike Flanagan’s fifth Netflix Original Series. Following 2022’s “The Midnight Club,” a thrilling yet emotionally intense horror drama, Flanagan tasked himself with creating “Usher,” which is inspired by a collection of works from the legendary author and poet Edgar Allan Poe. Utilizing an array of incredibly talented actors comprised of familiar faces from past Flanagan projects as well as plenty of newcomers, “The Fall of the House of Usher” proves itself in eight episodes to be yet another home run for the acclaimed director.
The story of “The Fall of the House of Usher” surrounds itself around the wealthy yet infamous Usher clan, who rose to immense levels of wealth, fame and power through years of dirty business tactics. Now on trial for their crimes, the children of the family patriarch, Rodrick Usher, begin to die under mysterious circumstances one by one, leading the viewer on a gripping and intense adventure while the dark truth behind the situation slowly unravels itself. While past Flanagan series have had major elements of mystery to them, “Usher” feels like the first of the batch to fully embrace the genre. This is no doubt a beneficial aspect of the show, which distinguishes itself from shows like “The Haunting of Bly Manor” and “Midnight Mass” in its presentation.
As to be expected, the cast that Flanagan has chosen to work with for this project is nothing short of flawless. By this point in his career, the director has built himself a top-tier roster of recurring actors who have appeared in many of his projects. Familiar faces like Raul Kohli, Carl Lumbly and Henry Thomas once again display their immense talent alongside newcomers like Mark Hamill, who is expectedly brilliant. The all-star award for the show undoubtedly goes to Carla Gugino, who in playing the show’s main antagonist delivers a remarkable and unforgettable performance that will keep viewers guessing until the very end.
A powerhouse cast is only half the battle, however. Character writing is among the most important aspects of any given story, and suffice it to say, this show fully delivers. The drama within the ranks of the Usher Crime Family manifests itself as an intense conflict between siblings who are all quite well-characterized. There is certainly an overlap in the greed and ego that each Usher carries, but distinct personality traits and motivations allow each member of the clan to stand apart and be memorable for their different reasons. In giving each character an episode largely their own (while still focusing on the larger story at hand), “The Fall of the House of Usher” allows itself to devote ample time to its array of characters for the viewer to get fully invested in all of the chaos.
The era of Netflix is over (at least for now) for Flanagan, who is moving on to create various shows and films with other studios in the near future. Starting with “The Haunting of Hill House” in 2018, his time with the platform has brought with it an array of undoubtedly classic horror shows that are bound to stand the test of time. “The Fall of the House of Usher” caps off this stage in his career properly, with a final entry that lives up to all of the things he does best. Good characters, a gripping plot and performances that will be tough to forget work together to deliver a must-watch show this Halloween season.