Mike Flanagan has woven a universe of television horror on Netflix

Victoria Pedretti and Amelie Eve in The Haunting Of Bly Manor (lower left);  Chris Sumpter, Iman Benson, Sauriyan Sapkota at The Midnight Club (top left);  Kate Siegal in The Haunting Of Hill House (far right);  Hamish Linklater at Midnight Mass (center)

Victoria Pedretti and Amelie Eve in The Curse of Bly Manor (down left); Chris Sumpter, Iman Benson, Sauriyan Sapkota in the midnight club (up to the left); Kate Siegal in The curse of the house on the hill (More to the right); Hamish Linklater in Midnight mass (center)
Photo: Eike Schroter/Netflix; Tina Rowden/Netflix

Almost every year since Netflix debuted The curse of the house on the hill in 2018—exactly four years ago on October 12—the streaming service has treated horror fans to new Mike Flanagan projects for Halloween. In quick succession, the writer, director, and the creator of the series has delivered The Curse of Bly Manor (2020), Midnight mass (2021), and the midnight club (2022). Their to assume The fall of the House of Usher It is scheduled to arrive on Netflix in 2023.

Each of the shows in this burgeoning Flanaverse explore horror in ways that are both grandly supernatural and inherently personal. And while Flanagan may have launched his genre career with movies like Absence, Shut, Y Gerald’s game (also available on Netflix), it is in the episodic space where he has found his true calling.

Flanagan’s version of horror isn’t just about scares and gory thrills (not that they’re not spectacularly fun to watch, of course). Rather, his shows capture the emotional toll that fear can take on a person, a family, and a community, all while featuring plenty of ghosts, shadowy creatures, and other things that lurk in the night. Each of Flanagan’s Netflix shows shares some common threads, including creepy basements, otherworldly interference, family trauma, and evocative relationships. However, each it is thematically distinctive.

hill house, bly mansionY the midnight club They feature elaborate pieces for a haunted house motif. In hill house, We confront the Crain family’s turbulent experiences in their childhood home and their inability to let go of attachments. bly mansionMeanwhile, focuses on the fear of losing yourself, your loved ones, or your memories, and features a nuanced romance between Dani (Victoria Pedretti) and Jamie (Amelia Eve). Midnight mass is a gruesome, philosophical undertaking about the strength of faith and the paranoia of religion (to put it mildly).

THE MIDNIGHT CLUB | Official Trailer | Netflix

the midnight clubnewest entry in Flanaverse, it’s less terrifying, but retains the author’s penchant for pondering mortality and legacy. The show focuses on young adults living in hospice care and explores whether anything is as frightening to them as their terminal illness. They seek an escape by exchanging dark stories (inspired by more of Christopher Pike’s work) and making a pact that each time one of them dies, that person will send a signal from beyond. Dying cannot be totally useless; after all, there has to be something, anything, that exists after fading to black. Netflix’s “Flanaverse” exists to explore exactly that.

the midnight clubFlanagan’s thesis is that teens in the hospice share scary stories, so Flanagan’s ever-reliable cast and crew can flex their muscles within the horror genre. A doomsday event, a serial killer, witches, evil doppelgangers, a late-night road trip gone wrong, a black-and-white murder mystery…CMT describes it all and is mostly successful.

Credit for this goes to a team that’s up for anything, a key element of Flanagan’s playbook. It draws on the talents of his frequent collaborators to bring out the best in his craft. Kate Siegel, for example, gives a masterful performance as Theo in hill house (His work in Shut is equally magnetic). Samantha Sloyan has worked on hill house Y CMT but it’s a revelation (no pun intended) as Midnight massBev Keane. Zach Gilford, Rahul Kohli, Carla Gugino, Annabeth Gish, Alex Essoe, and Henry Thomas are like the Avengers from the Flanaverse. And, yes, several young CMT actors, many of those who are new, will appear in The fall of the House of Usher.

Flanagan’s music composers The Newton Brothers and cinematographer Michael Fimognari, who have worked with him on nearly every project, provide additional layers to the Flanaverse. The work he does hill house, bly mansion, Midnight massY the midnight club feeling weirdly connected (with plenty of Easter eggs to boot). The shows are visually and stylistically linked, but convey a unique brand of moving and creepy. The shows are not perfect, and It may not appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that it’s easy to get meaning out of all of them. Flanagan has become a creative genius with a poetic understanding of the genre. There are no jumps in Flanaverse yet, and that’s a win for all of us (and mostly for Netflix too).

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