“The Fall of the House of Usher”: A Haunting Exploration of Greed, Power, and Poe

The opioid crisis, a dark chapter in American history, has spawned numerous works of art aiming to shed light on the devastation caused by Purdue Pharma’s unethical marketing of OxyContin. In Netflix’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”, Mike Flanagan, known for his haunting and introspective horror creations, takes a unique approach, intertwining Edgar Allan Poe’s iconic works with a fictional tale of a wealthy family behind a sinister drug empire. The result is a brutal, uncomfortable yet intriguing horror-mystery that explores themes of greed, revenge, and the decay of a once-powerful family.

The show’s brilliance lies in its ability to update Poe’s 1839 story for the modern age, tackling the opioid crisis and the morally bankrupt Usher family. Flanagan cleverly interlaces various Poe works, including “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” creating a Poe Cinematic Universe within the narrative.  The series uses the Usher family as a metaphor for the real-world Sacklers and the characters are inspired by various works of Poe.  

Like previous works by Flanagan, he delves into the dynamics of families, examining what holds them together and tears them apart. The Usher family, driven by the desire for complete comfort and power, builds its fortune on the pain of others. 

The characters, each representing a different aspect of the Usher family, undergo a descent into madness, mirroring Poe’s themes of greed, paranoia and violence. The limited series is based on Roderick Usher, the cold and distant patriarch, watches as each of his children meets a horrific demise in the waning days of his pharmaceutical empire. Each episode focuses on one of Roderick’s children that is intricately linked to a specific Poe work, exposing their vanity, cruelty, and disregard for others.

Flanagan’s signature style, seen in previous works like “The Haunting of Bly Manor”, ” Midnight Mass” and “The Midnight Club” is evident in the elaborate design and immersive visuals that maintains a consistent gothic aesthetic. The cinematography throughout the series complements the psychological aspects of the narrative, capturing the gradual mental collapse and demise of the characters with precision. The show seamlessly blends supernatural elements with practical effects, creating a world where the line between reality and the paranormal is blurred. From jump scares to reflective monologues, the cinematography enhances the storytelling, creating a hauntingly beautiful backdrop for the unfolding narrative. 

The limited series masterfully blends horror and psychological thriller elements that doesn’t rely solely on jump scares but rather builds an unsettling atmosphere that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. While Flanagan didn’t shy away from delivering gory and bloody moments; it is not scariest in terms of traditional horror. The show’s true terror lies in its mystery making the series more psychologically intense than conventionally scary. 

“The Fall of the House of Usher” stands out as a captivating and intense addition to the horror genre with its mesmerizing cinematography, psychological depth, and gruesome intensity. Flanagan’s tribute to Poe’s works, combined with a modern context, results in a thought-provoking series that goes beyond traditional scares. While the show may not be the scariest in terms of typical horror tropes, its ability to explore the human psyche and societal issues makes it a must-watch for fans of psychological horror and gothic storytelling. 

Subrina Singh

Hi there! My name is Subrina Singh. I am a self-proclaimed music connoisseur and a lover of anything created by SZA, Brent Faiyaz or Ariana Grande. I have an undying love for all things Disney and my guilty pleasure involves binge watching crime documentaries. I am caffeine lover and Dunkin Donuts #1 consumer. I love to read anything fiction or mystery. I am going to be writing for the opinions section where I dish out the unfiltered perspectives on hot topics like pineapple on pizza or cats’ plans for world domination.