Flanagan: horror movie expert

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An imposing mansion with red lamplight and red windows is lit from behind as a flash of intra-cloud lightning fades. Bats fly around the mansion and there are leafless trees surrounding the mansion.
For home buyers, it sure would be handy if all haunted houses looked like this. Hansuan_Fabregas via Pixabay

As spooky season approaches, horror movie marathon time is here

Have you ever heard of Mike Flanagan? He’s one of the greats in current horror media. Somehow, he has the Guiness World Record for most jumpscares in a single episode of television, yet his work doesn’t need jumpscares to be terrifying.  

You more than likely know him from The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix which he created, directed, wrote, produced, and was on the editing team for. 

His first feature length film was called Absentia, which was released in 2011 and funded by Kickstarter. It was rated well and won tons of horror awards. His next movie was Oculus in 2013, which wasn’t rated as well as Absentia, but was still considered a good movie, and was the first of his projects to star his now-wife and Scream Queen, Kate Siegel. 

2013 was a massive year for Flanagan, releasing three movies, including one of his biggest hits, Hush

In my opinion, Hush is one of the best horror movies out there, up in the ranks with You’re Next and Midsommar. Kate Siegel plays Maddie, a deaf and mute author. It’s brilliant watching Siegel play this horror character who’s missing the overly important sense of hearing. She has to use her other senses to kill the intruder coming into her house and save her own life. As someone who’s obsessed with audio in horror movies, Hush is top-tier. Personally, even better than A Quiet Place

He had projects in between Hush and The Haunting of Hill House, but The Haunting of Hill House was his next biggest hit. It was released on Netflix in 2018 to huge reviews. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, but has enough differences to stand out on its own. The story follows the Crain family, home renovators who are working on ‘the Hill House,’ a house which the family, including the five children, slowly learn is haunted. The time is split between the incredible child actors, who do such a great job at being kids and at being terrified, and the adult versions of the kids, living with the aftereffects of Hill House. The casting of the younger versions of the adults is insane and some of the best casting I’ve ever seen. It’s effortlessly terrifying, with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments that make rewatches even more exciting than the first time around.  

It’s not a surprise that Stephen King didn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his book The Shining, but he did love Flangan’s 2019 movie Doctor Sleep, which acts as a successor to Kubrick’s original film. Flanagan takes the element of children being affected by what happened to them in the past from Hill House and nails it again in Doctor Sleep. It makes Kubrick’s film feel nostalgic and almost an opposite to the story of a destructive father. 

My personal Flanagan favorite is his next Netflix show The Haunting of Bly Manor. It released to lower reviews than Hill House, but there’s no show I’d rather forget watching so I could watch it all over again than Bly Manor. I spent the entire show theorizing and being really engaged when usually I need extra stimuli to help me focus on a show. You’re constantly questioning, and the kids are terrifying in their little mannerisms. The actress who plays the little girl, Flora, also plays Peppa Pig, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

Flanagan released the perfect show for the religiously traumatized in 2021, Midnight Mass. Midnight Mass is an original story, and one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen. Not because of jumpscares, but because of the little moments in the background. The small sounds, the small bits of movement that send shivers down the spine. It’s also a beautiful story about family that left me sobbing in the end.  

In 2022, he released The Midnight Club on Netflix. If I’m honest, avoid this one. I didn’t enjoy it. It’s nowhere near as scary as his other works, and the story feels like it drags on. It has high ratings, but I wouldn’t agree. If you liked the original Christopher Pike books, check it out; otherwise, skip them.  

His next project is called The Fall of the House of Usher, releasing early October, which is loosely based on works by Edgar Allan Poe. Judging by previous Flanagan works, you won’t want to miss this one, and I’ll be unavailable the day it releases. 

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