TV

The Fall of the House of Usher’s Mike Flanagan Does Trauma Horror Right


In an age of ineffective horror movies about trauma, Mike Flanagan crafts series and movies that make trauma moving, believable, and scary.

The Fall of the House of Usher. (L to R) Molly C. Quinn as Jenny, Sauriyan Sapkota as Prospero Usher in episode 102 of The Fall of the House of Usher. Cr. Eike Schroter/Netflix © 2023
Photo: Eike Schroter | Netflix

This post contains spoilers for The Fall of the House of Usher and other Mike Flanagan works.

Acid raining from the sky, bodies melting into globs of indiscernible flesh, a troubled boy sucking the last bits of breath into his decimated lungs. 

These sights and so much more punctuate the climax to the second episode of The Fall of the House of Usher, easily the most ghastly death in a series full of unsettling ends. Any horror filmmaker would be happy to craft such an upsetting scene, but that’s not all that Usher creator Mike Flanagan can do. 

Just moments before young Prospero Usher (Sauriyan Sapkota) gets liquified, he’s met by Verna (Carla Gugino), a woman who haunts every member of the Usher family. Apropos of the Edgar Allan Poe story that gives the episode its title “The Masque of the Red Death,” Verna arrives at the rave/orgy wearing only skimpy lingerie and a death’s head mask. After catching Prospero’s eye, she meets him in a back room bathed in red, where they discuss morality and consequences. 

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