If you are looking for shows to binge-watch in time for spooky season (or if you watch scary flicks any time of the year), consider getting involved in the Flanaverse.

Just like how we refer to The Conjuring films as the “Conjuring-verse” or even movies under the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are treated as within the same sphere, fans of director Mike Flanagan’s works have officially dubbed his works as part of the “Flanaverse.”

Who is Mike Flanagan, and his filmography?

Mike Flanagan is an American filmmaker famous for his horror titles for films and series. Flanagan directed his films, wrote and edited them, ensuring his full attention and involvement with each project.

While Flanagan has been around the past century with titles such as Oculus (2013) Before I Wake (2016), and Gerald’s Game (2017), among other films, the Flanaverse stemmed from his anthologies, including his masterpiece adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House in 2018.

With the recent release of yet another addition to the Flanaganverse—The Fall of the House of Usher—let’s recap and talk about the shows and why you should watch them.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)


When The Haunting of Hill House debuted on Netflix in 2018, the hype went over the roof as it’s a legitimately scary series. Though it is only a 10-episode show, it quickly became a signature Mike Flanagan work, allowing people to recognize the filmmaker just by stating the title alone.

This is a loose adaptation of novelist Shirley Jackson’s 1959 Gothic fiction bearing the same name. Those who read the book before watching the series had to admit that it was not too bad of an interpretation from the book to the big screen.

Flanagan’s version of Hill House revolves around the Crain family, the children now all grown up and living their chosen lives. However, their childhood home bears a dark energy that continues to haunt the family until it eventually brought them all back together to confront past traumas and grief.

The first episode of the series garnered favorable first impressions by introducing ghostly characters such as the bent-neck lady whose appearance frequented the entire series. There is almost always a dreadful feeling that something will pop out unexpectedly as the episodes continue.

But The Haunting of Hill House isn’t just about its jump scares. Viewers realized the kind of trauma the Crain family has gone through and how it has deeply affected their lives (especially the children’s) as they grew.

It’s a series that lives up to its title, hauntingly beautiful and poignant in its storytelling of family relationships and reconnection.

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)


In 2020, The Haunting of Bly Manor came out in what was first believed to be a sequel to The Haunting of Hill House, probably because it both incorporated a haunted mansion or because Mike Flanagan directed it.

For those who are unfamiliar with Flanagan’s way of doing things, actors would, most of the time, return from one film or show, making it another trademark of the Flanaverse. But this is probably a hint that Hill House and Bly Manor could possibly be connected.

However, it quickly clarified that The Haunting of Bly Manor is another standalone show adapted from another classic horror fiction by Henry James—The Turn of the Screw. While Flanagan once more dealt with children and family and themes of loss and grief, he delivers Bly Manor differently than the first series.

In The Haunting of Bly Manor, the story focuses on the perspective of Dani, an American hired by Lord Wingrave to look after his nephews, Miles and Flora, whose parents have passed away tragically. Dani is not only faced with staying in a disturbing mansion but is tasked with caring for equally creepy kids whose past seems to weigh heavily on them.

There are not a lot of jump scares, such as in the previous show, but Bly Manor highlights grief along with the subject of love to emphasize how people cope with their past and continue to live life.

Midnight Mass (2021)


Midnight Mass popped out on Netflix a year after another success with The Haunting of Bly Manor. This time, Flanagan plays with the idea of horror in religion bordering on cult.

The show has already been one of Flanagan’s beloved personal projects, inspired by his upbringing as a Catholic and sometimes running in with atheism. It first came out as an idea for a novel, then a script, and then became an unsuccessful TV series pitch. However, with the success of The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor, Flanagan was given an opportunity to make Midnight Mass.

Midnight Mass revolves around the town on an island known as Crockett (called by the residents as “The Crock Pot.”) Its town priest, Monsignor Pruitt, has not yet returned from a trip to the Holy Land, so in came a young, charismatic, and rather good-looking substitute priest, Father Paul Hill. As the townsfolk became impressed with his enthusiasm and the ability to perform “miracles,” sinister forces started to unravel.

Just as Father Paul enraptured the flock of sheep that are the residents of The Crock Pot, he also captivated viewers not just by his looks but through his sermons, his monologues, and his interactions with the other characters who came to him for emotional and spiritual healing.

If it’s true that we tend to get attracted to villains even though we know they are doing bad things, this is the show that points exactly to that notion. But then again, it’s a wake-up call to let us realize that when we border into fanaticism when we interpret our beliefs misguidedly, we fail to live out what Christian upbringing tells us.

Midnight Mass is a treat for a seven-episode-long show. From the moment Father Paul Hill is introduced, the story starts to build up until the shocking final scene in the last episode, which could only be truly appreciated once you work your way from the beginning.

The Midnight Club (2022)


Midnight Mass also became a startling success as The Midnight Club soon followed the year after. Again, not to be confused with both titles having the word “Midnight,” but both are standalone series with no story connection between these shows.

The Midnight Club is more of a Young Adult (YA) horror series because the story revolves around a cancer patient, Ilonka, who gets sent to Brightcliffe—a hospice for young people—where she discovers fellow terminally ill teens who have formed a secret society who meet every midnight down the basement to share horror stories among themselves.

Interestingly, the Midnight Club (also the name of their group) also promised that whoever dies first from their illness will send a message from beyond the grave.

The members’ individual stories intertwine with Ilonka’s discovery of the hospice and its secrets that might save the lives of even the hopeless.

It’s an interesting addition to the Flanagan verse, with its treatment of telling stories as a form of coping with the miserable situation of knowing your health is fading—especially when faced by young people.

The first episode once more returned to the hype that The Haunting of Hill House gave with having the most jump scares in a single episode, but viewers will realize that this isn’t just about children’s scary stories session.

Once more, Mike Flanagan translates heavy emotions such as sorrow, dread, and the fear of leaving loved ones when dying into a 10-episode series. At the same time, he balances these with the thrill that comes with the stories the teens tell. And trust me, they have pretty creepy tales to tell.

The Fall of the House of Usher (2023)


In the latest addition to the Flanaverse, The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t too difficult to guess, especially with famous Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe fans. The series title is the same as one of Poe’s most known short stories, but so are the names of each episode.

From book to screen, we follow the wealthy family of Usher, whose fortune steadily declined. Roderick Usher invites Detective Auguste Dupin (yes, THAT Dupin also from Poe’s detective fiction) one night in order to finally reveal his family’s history of crime and violence.

As the head of the Usher household tells all, each episode reveals that generations of the family tree have been violently cut off (The ‘how’ is inspired by other works of Poe in every episode) and that Roderick feels their ghosts are coming to haunt him.

This is a delight for fans of horror and Edgar Allan Poe’s works, with its many easter eggs taken from popular short stories and poems such as “The Raven” or “The Black Cat.” After all, Poe is one of the foundations of Gothic tales, the master of the macabre who inspired icons like Stephen King and Mike Flanagan himself.

Five spine-chilling shows that pull on our emotions as much as it scares

Recently, filmmakers and producers have been trying to raise the horror genre’s bar by being more than just about jump scares, ghosts, and demons. We already saw horror films (mostly Indie) that have received positive reviews and have been accepted even by non-enthusiasts of the genre.

These are usually the kind who focus on fear not just as something produced by the paranormal, but like Flanagan, understood that fear could take on forms such as dying from a terminal disease, getting lost and confused with your faith, or depression felt by the entire family.

There is this uniqueness when you say a Mike Flanagan horror movie that allowed his series (mentioned in this list) to all be successful and remain on the streaming platform for years.

Which one is your favorite Flanaverse film or series? Do you agree that the horror genre deserves much more attention? Let us know your thoughts below.

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