Right now, there’s one new Netflix show that stands above the rest. And that’s Mike Flanagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher. In fact, it might be my favorite new show across all the best streaming services right now.
I’ll be honest, I was surprised at how much I liked this show. I’m not the biggest fan of horror movies or TV shows. I knew of Flanagan’s work and had seen parts of some of his other Netflix horror miniseries — namely The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. But I only watched in passing with friends. I never continued to watch after an episode ended.
But The Fall of the House of Usher had me playing the next episode without hesitation from the outset. Which in itself is pretty refreshing given that even many of the great TV shows start out slow.
Admittedly, the pacing of The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t breakneck. But while other shows feel like they’re searching for something, The Fall of the House of Usher’s methodical pace feels intentional. And it’s honestly one of the things I love about it.
Slow and steady wins the race
As I said before, The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t fast-paced. But the pacing feels intentional and it kept me interested the entire time. In fact, the way the show is laid out probably helped because I’m not a huge horror fan. The episodes aren’t littered with jump scares or loaded with gory violence. These things still occur of course, but they’re sprinkled in at just the right moment and used sparingly.
Instead, it’s the suspense and the characters that really drive this show forward. The Usher family is completely insane, even the even-keeled Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) and Madeline Usher (Mary McDonnell) are largely detached from reality. The messed-up family dynamic really worked for me, and I think it gives non-horror fans a point of connection with the show. I often found myself thinking about the Roy family from Succession as I watched the Ushers interact with each other.
If you don’t bring baggage, this Netflix show is a great watch
So here’s the thing with The Fall of the House of Usher — it’s loosely based on the works of Edgar Allen Poe. While it’s certainly an adaptation at times, it’s almost simply an homage at others. There is a plot of the story that follows the Edgar Allen Poe short story, as well as nods to other works of Poe’s like The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado and Annabel Lee. But you shouldn’t expect a faithful adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s work.
Instead, you get a compelling cast of characters telling a story that earns your attention and keeps it once it has it. Outside of the Usher family itself, Carla Gugino as Verna is particularly excellent and Mark Hamill does a great supporting performance as the family lawyer Arthur Pym, who is affectionately known as “The Pym Reaper.”
My other piece of advice? Leave your Mike Flanagan baggage at the door with your Edgar Allen Poe baggage. As I perused the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — a mere 75% compared to the 91% critics score — I didn’t notice a ton of complaints about its handling of Poe’s oeuvre, but there were many complaints about how it compared to other projects directed by Flanagan. Obviously, you can watch TV however you want, but I recommend against doing that. Just let the show be its own thing and judge it on its own merits.
My judgment? The Fall of the House of Usher is excellent. I am disappointed there won’t be a second season, though that was never the plan. And in an age of Marvel and Star Wars retreads, I found it refreshing to watch. So watch the entire eight-episode miniseries now and enjoy one of the best new shows out there.