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‘The Fall of the House of Usher’: Mike Flanagan’s Swan Song

Modern horror guru Mike Flanagan is back with a twisted fantasy.
‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (Courtesy of Netflix)


Modern horror guru Mike Flanagan is back with a twisted fantasy. It melds together some of Edgar Allen Poe’s best works as he exits his prolific tenure with Netflix. “The Fall of the House of Usher” follows the fictional Usher family, owners of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, as they are finally set to face legal consequences for a decade’s worth of crime.

Chief among their crimes is pushing the highly addictive fictional painkiller “Ligodone” onto the market and reaping the rewards despite the growing body count. The premise is not unlike the real-life Sackler family. Soon, a mysterious woman begins haunting them and bringing about their ends one by one until their great empire falls. Essentially, it’s “Succession” meets “American Horror Story.”

A Stand-Out Performance

Flannagan has been known to work with the same pool of actors. He offers them the chance to return for wildly different roles to flex those dramatic muscles. The crown jewel of this cast is Carla Gugino as Verna (an anagram for “raven”).

Verna is a mysterious and menacing presence haunting the Usher family. She appears as multiple different characters throughout the story. Each one delivers to the Ushers their just desserts inspired by the ironic and horrific deaths found in Poe’s stories. It’s worth noting that she doesn’t kill directly. She only allows for them to meet their fate.

Carla Gugino in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Meet the Family

Amongst the returning cast are Sauriyan Sapkota, Rahul Kohli, Henry Thomas, Samantha Sloyan, T’Nia Miller and Kate Siegel. Each plays a different Usher sibling who are the most despicable people imaginable.

Kyliegh Curran plays the only grandchild in the family. She is the only character worth rooting for because she’s too young for the Usher’s evil to have corrupted her.

The story begins with, and is framed by, a confession from the family patriarch Roderick (Bruce Greenwood) to prosecutor Auguste Dupin (Carl Lumbly). The two actors bounce wonderfully off of each other providing a stark contrast between their morals.

Another key character is the young version of Madeline Usher (Willa Fitzgerald) who unapologetically accepts the evil the Ushers have brought into the world. She has a chip on her shoulder on account of being a woman in the corporate world. Mary McDonnell does carry herself as a more weathered version of the character but doesn’t have the same presence. Outside the family is Arthur Pym (Mark Hamill). Pam is a gruff corporate fixer whose cold nature provides an air of brevity amid the turmoil. The role showcases a new side of Hamill’s acting.

The Usher family in ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (Courtesy of Netflix)

Quoth The Raven “Nevermore”

Ultimately this is a story about unchecked ambition at the expense of others. Pure greed and the corruption it breeds in a familial setting. Without a doubt, it’s been Flanagan’s most ambitious project yet. It is not his best, but certainly one could argue the series is his magnum opus.

Flanagan’s long-running partnership with Netflix has led to movies and five different series such as “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Gerald’s Game.” This partnership is coming to an end as Flanagan has signed with Amazon Prime for future projects.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with an impressive 91% critical score and 75% audience score. It sits at an 8.1 user rating on IMDB, and a four-star rating on Letterboxd. It is definitely worth adding to your watchlist this October.


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Malcolm Goodwin, Zach Gilford, Willa Fitzgerald, and Katie Parker in “The Fall of the House of Usher” (Courtesy of Netflix)

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About the Contributor
Andre Montoya, Arts Writer
Andre Montoya is a senior at the University of Utah double majoring in English and communications with an emphasis in journalism. He began writing for the Arts Desk at the Daily Utah Chronicle in Fall 2022. Previously, he has written for the West View Media and Voices of Utah, formerly run by now retired U professor Dr. Kim Mangun. He can often be found around campus glued to his laptop working on assignments or at the Student Life Center exercising. In his free time, he enjoys reading novels, photography, binge-watching shows and movies, or spending time with friends.

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