The Fall of the House of Usher Reviews: 'Deliciously Macabre' and 'Triumphant,' Critics Say

"Horribly good fun" and more of what critics are saying about Mike Flanagan's horror homage to the works of legendary author Edgar Allan Poe.

by | October 10, 2023 | Comments

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Mike Flanagan takes on the works of Edgar Allan Poe in The Fall of the House of Usher, his final spooky outing at Netflix. The eight-episode series, which premieres to the streamer on Thursday, October 12, follows the bleak, gory, and darkly comedic downfall of pharmaceutical magnate Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) and his richly diverse (and richly despicable) family.

Starring alongside Greenwood is a who’s who of Flanagan faves, including Carla Gugino, Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, Zach Gilford, Carl Lumbly, Samantha Sloyan, T’Niah Miller, Rahul Kohli, Michael Trucco, Annabeth Gish, Robert Longstreet, and Katie Parker. Flana-verse newcomers Mark Hamill, Willa Fitzgerald, and Mary McDonnell help fill out the program’s already extensive ensemble.

The buzz is high for the series, which is currently Certified Fresh with a 95% score. Here’s what critics are saying about The Fall of the House of Usher:

How does it compare to Mike Flanagan’s other Netflix shows?

The Fall of the House of Usher

Paola Nuñez and T’Nia Miller (Photo by Eike Schroter/Netflix)

Usher is archer and funnier than most Flanagan efforts, reminiscent at times of Succession, but with the Sacklers taking the place of the Murdochs and a much higher body count (and way more blood).
TV Guide, Keith Phipps

Still, there are plenty of great grand guignol joys to be had from what Flanagan and company are offering, although “Usher” can’t compare with Flanagan’s previous, better Netflix sagas, particularly the excellent “The Haunting of Hill House” and “Midnight Mass.”
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Mike Flanagan has plenty of death in his past work but nothing I would ever call gory. The same can’t be said for House of Usher, though. The deaths are horrific in the best way, and watching how the surreal scenarios play out is a major part of what makes this a fun series. Imagine the roaming specters from The Haunting of Hill House if they died in a Jigsaw trap or freaky Final Destination “accident.”
Cassondra Feltis, Black Girl Nerds

Where Haunting of Hill House and Midnight Mass danced with the idea of drama while honing in on their more horrific stylings, and The Midnight Club and Haunting Of Bly Manor subverted this in favour of theatrics, Fall Of The House Of Usher masters both in an intensely gripping show that oozes intrigue.
Rebecca Sayce,

Half creative writing project tied to a freshman seminar on Edgar Allan Poe, half horror-filled karmic catharsis, Flanagan’s The Fall of the House of Usher is a bluntly entertaining exercise. It’s easily the most specifically topical of Flanagan’s Netflix minis, fueled by an often palpable anger. —Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

How is the cast?

The Fall of the House of Usher

Sauriyan Sapkota, Kate Siegel, Rahul Kohli, Matt Biedel, Samantha Sloyan, Mark Hamill (Photo by Eike Schroter/Netflix)

New additions (that we hope to see in future projects) include the remarkable Mark Hamill as Arthur Pym, the Ushers’ intimidating attorney and all-around “fixer.” Both Mary McDonnell and Willa Fitzgerald perfectly embody the icy and highly intelligent Madeline Usher at different ages, delivering her biting dialogue with a chilling and amusing tone.
Cassondra Feltis, Black Girl Nerds

Greenwood, who previously starred in Flanagan’s adaptation of Gerald’s Game and stepped in here after Frank Langella was dismissed during production, is excellent as the family patriarch, as charismatic as he is dreadful.
Olly Richards, Empire Magazine

Gugino brings her usual charm to the part, making her character both alluring and menacing all at once.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

The Fall of the House of Usher gives the entire cast a brand new playground, and everyone is having the time of their lives. (Or time of their deaths? You get the idea.)
Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

Thomas is wonderfully entertaining as the jittery, hapless Usher heir whose creeping suspicions about his wife (Crystal Balint) lead him to exact horribly unjustified and macabre revenge.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

Is it a worthwhile adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s work?

The Fall of the House of Usher teaser poster

The Fall of the House of Usher poster (Photo by Netflix)

I was instantly transported back to English class in high school, where I would look at the themes presented in Poe’s work, and Flanagan not only honors the work and the love we have for it but puts his own spin on the characters in Poe’s story, bringing a modern sensibility to these horrors.
Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue

This is no reverent Poe adaptation; instead, it’s more an interpretation of his themes of selfishness and regret, used as the foundation for an entirely invented story.
Olly Richards, Empire Magazine

Every minute of this series worships Poe. But rather than directly translating the author’s tale of a man whose internal rot is symbolized by his crumbling abode, Flanagan uses the short story as what could almost be described as the wraparound segment in an anthology, with each chapter tackling another one of Poe’s fables while mummified in the wrappings of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” What comes out of that mummification is some of Flanagan’s best work.
Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

Using the frame of Usher, he has crafted a story that stitches Poe’s work together like flesh on a battlefield, a gruesome, traumatic series that pulls out big knives and cuts itself apart over and over again.
Linda Codega, io9

Instead of adapting every scene, he chooses to adapt the spirit and emotion from the works, and in that way, The Fall of the House of Usher is a beautiful and intimate look at the works of Edgar Allan Poe and not just an adaptation of one story.
Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

How is the writing and directing?

The Fall of the House of Usher

Aya Furukawa, Kate Siegel, Igby Rigney (Photo by Eike Schroter/Netflix)

Tone is a serious problem here; the show is never as scary as it should be, nor is ever as funny as it wants to be.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

What Flanagan does most effectively is create an air of dreadful inevitability. There is a satisfying structure to the series, a rhythmic picking-off of characters as they suffer the karmic retribution of their father’s original sin.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

While past Flanagan series inspired by famous authors have never hidden their inspiration, House of Usher puts the writing of Poe front and center, with a deliberate emphasis on the author’s actual words, especially his poetry. These familiar lines are blended into the show’s actual dialogue at times, and used for emphasis in voice-over at others: Greenwood wasn’t necessarily cast for his rich speaking voice, but listening to him recite familiar passages from poems like “The Raven” is a deeply-felt pleasure.
Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

House of Usher is full-blown dread. By combining his signature style with Poe’s greatest hits, Flanagan creates an epic family tragedy that caps off his Netflix era with a brutally dark note.
Dais Johnston, Inverse

Any final thoughts?

The Fall of the House of Usher stars Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill (Photo by Eike Schroter/Netflix)

The Fall of the House of Usher is a triumphant adaptation of Poe’s works, creating an exquisite corpse out of the corpus of horror that we know and love, but now made into a timely, biting satire of legacy, immortality, and all the themes that Poe, and Flanagan, do best. —Linda Codega, io9

Whatever level you’re at, it’s a formula for a series of moment-to-moment effectiveness, with some cleverness and much playful horror. But in its wish-fulfillment approach to a very real tragedy, the haunting here is more fleeting and less marrow-deep than Flanagan’s best work. —Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Dark, gory, and filled with things to talk about in each episode, The Fall of the House of Usher is yet again a brilliant showcase of Mike Flanagan’s ability to adapt stories that frightened us throughout our younger years and bring them into our lives into a new way.
Rachel Leishman, The Mary Sue

The Fall of the House of Usher is a character-driven exploration of family, karma, greed, corruption, and privilege told through a uniquely satirical and supernatural lens.
Cassondra Feltis, Black Girl Nerds

Mike Flanagan builds a towering, dark-hearted horror story that’s horribly good fun.
Olly Richards, Empire Magazine

Mike Flanagan returns to form in The Fall of the House of Usher, delivering a deliciously macabre and contemporary reimagining of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Classic tales marry with modern commentary in a limited series that delivers at every turn. You’ll scream, you’ll cry, and once it’s over you might just start it all over from the beginning again.
Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

Filled with tension and the gothic romanticism and selfishness that begets penance and revenge, The Fall of the House of Usher is a stunning tribute and exhaustive love letter to the works of one of America’s most prolific writers.
Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Mike Flanagan’s latest literature-inspired Netflix series might be his best yet.
Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

90% The Fall of the House of Usher: Limited Series (2023) premieres Thursday, October 12 on Netflix.

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