Netflix’s Fall of the House of Usher Is Not the Horror Series You Think It Is

Mike Flanagan's next Netflix series, The Fall of the House of Usher, is drawing influence from an unexpected sub-genre of horror.

Photo: Eike Schroter/Netflix

Mike Flanagan has created four horror television series for Netflix thus far – The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, and The Midnight Club. His work has become known for using horror to explore trauma, death, and love without a tremendous amount of blood or jump scares (aside from The Midnight Club episode that broke the Guinness World Record). Flanagan’s next project, however, is looking to up the ante on the blood and gore.

In an interview with Den of Geek, Flanagan reveals that his next series, The Fall of the House of Usher, is a big departure from the Gothic horror he’s usually associated with, describing the upcoming series as “kind of our first real swing at giallo.”

Giallo horror is a genre of Italian cinema that was developed in the mid-to-late 1960s and features a distinctive visual style that includes vivid colors, disorienting framing, and strong shadows. Giallo films lean heavily into the psychological horror aspects of the murder-mystery genre. They are still “whodunits” but focus more on the spectacle of death and the crimes committed than the traditional detective story does. If you’ve watched the films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento, you’re likely familiar with this style.

Because of how bloody and gruesome the death scenes are, in combination with how the films shroud the killer in mystery, giallo is often regarded as the precursor to the slasher genre. Madness, sexuality, and paranoia are the primary psychological themes here, so it’s fitting that Flanagan would choose giallo as a way to dig into Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Ad – content continues below

Poe’s classic short story follows a brother and sister who are the last members of the Usher family. An unnamed narrator is called to visit his friend, the brother, as he and his sister are both ill. Readers quickly learn that the brother believes that the house is alive. In his madness, the brother ends up entombing his sister alive as he thinks that she is dead. But she comes back to kill her brother in a fit of rage, literally scaring him to death before dying herself. After their deaths, the house crumbles in half and sinks into the surrounding lake. 

Poe’s work is synonymous with Gothic horror, and when asked by Den of Geek about the direction and tone of Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher in comparison to his other work, Flanagan says that “when you talk about more gore or Gothic horror, [Fall of the House of Usher] is bonkers.” He reveals that the series often goes in a “completely different direction” than viewers might expect and that it’s “pretty blood soaked and really fun.”

Even though The Fall of the House of Usher will be Flanagan’s first foray into giallo horror, he says that exploring different horror sub-genres with the stories told by the kids in The Midnight Club “gave us a lot of courage to take [Fall of the House of Usher] in that direction.” Indeed, it will be interesting to see how Flanagan balances his more emotional style with the gory, bloody, and sometimes exploitative nature of giallo.

The Fall of the House of Usher hits Netflix sometime in 2023.