The Fall of House of Usher: Series serves good dose of truly unsettling experience 

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The Fall Of The House Of Usher series is not for the faint of heart. PHOTO | POOL

The Fall Of The House Of Usher is not for the faint of heart. The spooky season is here, we've already been treated to films like A Haunting in Venice, Saw 10, and more are on the horizon.

The Fall of the House of Usher is an American gothic horror drama miniseries created by Mike Flanagan, making it an ideal choice for a Halloween binge. 

The story

This eight-episode series, available on Netflix, boldly explores body horror and the disturbing depths of psychological and religious-based dread. It draws its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's short story, combining elements reminiscent of Painkiller (Netflix), a touch of Succession (HBO), a hint of The Exorcist, and even occasional echoes of Saw. Be warned, the initial two episodes may not prepare you for what lies ahead.


Roderick and Madeline Usher, siblings who've turned their pharmaceutical company into a vast empire of riches, privilege, and authority, find their family's dark secrets exposed when the heirs to their dynasty begin to perish mysteriously.

Although the show features captivating drama, it will periodically remind you of its horror genre. Discussing it, you might draw parallels to films like Saw, as it offers a substantial amount of body horror. When it comes to psychological horror like The Exorcist certain scenes merely lay out a situation, leaving your imagination to fill in the terrifying details.

What sets this show apart is its skilful establishment and explanation of these story elements, preventing the horror from feeling gimmicky and more of a pivotal part of the story. So why am I reviewing this show with an understanding that the majority of people are not drawn to horror productions?

What worked

First and foremost, it boasts a remarkable visual appeal, showcasing the extensive efforts of the production team. In the initial episodes, it masterfully plays with the concept of time, while the costume and set departments excel in authentically representing various time periods. The sound design, particularly in scenes involving animals, is employed to great effect, leaving a lasting impact. 

Sound is skillfully used to set the tone and intensify pivotal moments. The cinematography harmoniously complements the show's atmosphere, especially in creating unsettling environment where even the colour grey takes a terrifying quality.

The adept use of light to frame and accentuate details in both the environment and characters often prompts viewers to rewind scenes to catch subtle movements in the background or shadows.

Nevertheless, what truly sets this show apart is its narrative, screenplay, performances, and overall structure. There are moments when you might consider looking away, but the characters, portrayed brilliantly by talents like Carl Lumbly, Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Mark Hamill, and Ruth Codd, excel in keeping you engaged.

The show evokes intense emotions, making you either despise or develop a strong affection for its characters, which is a testament to the outstanding quality of the writing.

The editing is precise and innovative, and within the context of the show's horror genre, it effectively every now and then sends shivers down your spine. 

It's important to underscore that it's the seamless integration of exceptional visuals, a captivating narrative, outstanding screenplay, and remarkable performances that renders this show a must-watch. However, it's worth noting that occasionally, amidst the dramatic lives of the somewhat privileged and spoiled characters, the show serves as a reminder of its true genre as a horror series. While this element adds to its allure, it can also be perceived as a drawback.

What didn’t work

The film's jump scares are incredibly intense, almost heart-attack-inducing. Although the sound design effectively amplifies high-tension scenes, there are instances where the jump scares merge unsettling visuals with thunderous sound effects, often coming across as needlessly loud and gimmicky.

While the story was quite enjoyable, it appeared that the show was making an excessive effort to gain widespread approval, with a notable underlying theme of contemporary identity and cultural politics.

It felt as if the show was striving to impress or cater to a broad audience, even with a strong story and high production value. Lastly, there were scenes and characters that left me questioning their necessity in a tightly edited and well-crafted production.


The Fall of the House of Usher provides a captivating examination of extreme wealth and the lengths to which corporations and individuals are willing to go in the name of capitalism. The writing is solid, the costume and set design meticulously thought out, and the sound design is powerfully executed.

The visuals are cleverly structured, alternating between the ordinary, dramatic and the absurd, managing to keep your attention, even after witnessing nightmarish imagery and unsettling jump scares.

This show is a true delight for horror enthusiasts, but if you're not a fan of dark religious imagery and occasional body horror, it might not be your cup of tea.

Twitter: @stanslausmanthi

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