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'The Fall of the House of Usher' has a sneaky 'Gerald's Game' Easter egg

Another Flanaverse Easter egg!
'The Fall of the House of Usher' has a sneaky 'Gerald's Game' Easter egg

Mike Flanagan’s work is usually brimming with Easter eggs, from the Christopher Pike references hidden through The Midnight Club to every single ghost lurking in the background of The Haunting of Hill House.

In the director’s latest Netflix series, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Flanagan not only peppers it with references to the author's work but also his own catalogue — if that cast list wasn't already a major Flanaverse clue.

In a scene in episode 6, you’ll spot Lenore Usher (Kyliegh Curran) watching a movie with her mother, Morella (Crystal Balint), who is recovering from the horrific burns caused by Prospero’s acidic "Masque of the Red Death" rave from episode 2. What are they watching? The 1961 Vincent Price film of Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum — which very much predicts a turn of fate for their nearest relative.

But more interestingly, when they're picking their next movie on Netflix, they dwell on one offering: Gerald's Game.

The 2017 Stephen King adaptation is one of the best screen versions of the horror master's work out there — and it was directed by Flanagan himself. Based on King's 1992 novel, the film shares an uncomfortable theme with Morella’s current plight: a woman unable to move from her bed-bound prison. In the film, Jessie, the protagonist, finds herself handcuffed to a bed in a remote cabin after her husband dies mid-sex game. "Much of the story takes place in her head, but Flanagan's direction — which makes use of flashbacks and imaginary conversations — brings Jessie's internal nightmare effortlessly to life," writes Mashable's Sam Haysom. We don't even know where to begin visualising Morella's inner conversation during The Fall of the House of Usher.

But this reference ties to Usher in even more ways. Who plays the film's protagonist, Jessie? None other than Carla Gugino, whose presence as the demon Verna has plagued the Usher family for multiple episodes. Morella herself has even been spoken to by Verna, in that last minute heads up about the doom sprinklers. Morella never sees her face, so watching Verna starring in a movie on her laptop wouldn't give her pause, but a few more faces might...

Actor Bruce Greenwood, who plays patriarch Roderick Usher in the Netflix series, also stars in Gerald’s Game, and he’s an absolute bastard of a character, playing Jessie's husband Gerald. Essentially, this is one of those film-within-a-film conundrums, as Lenore and Morella could technically watch their grandfather/father-in-law die during a sex game with the demon Verna on Netflix. Yikes!

But that’s not where the Usher connections stop! Henry Thomas, who plays Frederick Usher, also plays Jessie’s abusive father in the film, while Kate Siegel, who plays Camille L'Espanaye, plays her mother. What!

Henry Thomas plays the worst dudes.

So, recapping: Lenore and Morella could settle in for a quiet evening of watching Roderick and Verna engage in fatal sex games, Freddie as a horrific father to Verna, and Camille being Verna's mother? This is why movies and TV should never appear in movies and TV, my brain.

How to watch: The Fall of the House of Usher is now streaming on Netflix (as is Gerald’s Game).

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