The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ provides gruesome thrills through compelling family drama

Netflix’s latest horror drama from Mike Flanagan, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” is loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and is as frightening as it is tragic.
Cody Blissett
Photo Illustration by Cody Blissett

Though filmmaker Mike Flanagan has written and directed five different series for Netflix in the past six years, their quick succession did not equate to a dip in quality; and Flanagan’s newest eight-episode horror series, “The Fall of the House of Usher,” is one of his best.

Released on Netflix on Oct. 12, the show is a modern interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story by the same name.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” tells the tale of the Usher family, specifically the sibling duo of Roderick and Madeline Usher, played by Bruce Greenwood and Mary McDonnell respectively, as business partners running a massive pharmaceutical company that is under investigation for malpractice.

From the beginning of the show, it was clear Roderick, and his six children are awful people. There was no point in the show when I was ever rooting for any members of the Usher family, but that was what made the series so fun to watch.

The show lets viewers know within the first few minutes of the first episode that all of the Ushers would die by the end, so the mystery came not in who will die or who the murderer is but rather in how and why the characters died.

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Each episode followed a different member of the Usher family as they met their demise. This structure made the show compelling and addictive. I could not stop watching.

While the series wasn’t as frightening as Flanagan’s other popular shows like “The Haunting of Hill House” or “Midnight Mass,” there was a looming dread present throughout the whole show.

Rather than relying on jump scares to instill fear, the show developed a gothic horror atmosphere similar to that of Poe’s original story.

With that, there were still plenty of scares that made this a perfect Halloween watch. Each kill was creative, gruesome, and personalized to each character whom the show spent time allowing viewers to get to know and understand.

The conclusion was satisfying but despite the structure of this series as a mystery, it was easy to figure out what was going on pretty early.

Further, because there were so many characters to balance and the audience was made aware of each outcome the series was leading to, there was less story depth and complexity compared to Flanagan’s other work.

While the series was more about the journey than the destination, the bloody, violent and spooky journey provided by “The Fall of the House of Usher” is very entertaining, nonetheless.

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About the Contributors
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.