Hate that Netflix calls it ‘the Flanaverse’
Mike Flanagan is one of the most prolific and acclaimed horror filmmakers in the industry right now – and he’s quickly established himself as an auteur of the genre that no matter what he releases gets people talking. I’m a huge horror fan, and, more often than not, a huge fan of Flanagan’s work. With the release of his latest series The Midnight Club on Netflix and with Halloween well and truly upon us – I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to get every Mike Flanagan horror project ranked from worst to best!
Before I Wake is a Netflix Mike Flanagan horror film that centres around a child whose dreams start coming into reality. Before I Wake is the story of a couple who adopt a boy after their son passes away, but soon find out his dreams become reality. Before I Wake isn’t the worst thing ever by any stretch, its biggest crime is that it’s just unremarkable. Which is not a word that has any business being used in conjunction with Mike Flanagan.
Alas, there is nothing perfectly splendid about Bly Manor, one of the most disappointing Mike Flanagan projects ranked here by FAR. Victoria Pedretti tries her hardest in this adaptation of The Turning of the Screw, but finds herself surrounded by an insufferable duo of children that derail this weak spiritual successor to Hill House before the ghosts even come out of the closet.
Whilst The Haunting of Bly Manor is annoying from beginning to end, I will praise the ever present hidden haunts that Flanagan manages to layer into the backgrounds of his shots – they’re a highlight and it’s always good, spooky fun double guessing if you actually saw something spooky or if your mind is just playing tricks on you.
The first Ouija film was shit – let’s call a spade a spade. Mike Flanagan was drafted in to pen and direct the prequel – and managed to completely eclipse the first film by making a spooky possession film that brings his horror talent to the forefront, and stars the Flanagan mainstay, and always note-perfect, Elisabeth Reaser.
The late 60s setting means amazing costumes, the child actors are NOT annoying (!) and the horror is spooky and constant. It’s a good time, but nowhere near as good as the best Mike Flanagan stuff yet to be ranked.
Karen Gillan leads Oculus, a scary flick that makes you want to tear down every mirror in your house and smash it unceremoniously on the street outside. The film tells the story of a recently released inmate who was imprisoned for multiple murders as his sister, played by Gillan, tries to prove that supernatural forces were behind the killings.
Oculus is a prime example of how good Mike Flanagan is at prioritising dread and terror over gore and his notorious hate for jumpscares.
Mike Flanagan’s latest project is one that I feel a bit conflicted about. The Midnight Club is undoubtedly the most juvenile of all of Flangan’s work, and you would not be blamed for occasionally feeling like you’ve accidentally put Nickelodeon on. The characters are also, to put it lightly, annoying.
However, I did binge it almost fully in one day – and I do think it has an intriguing mystery that definitely kept me hanging on for the next chapter. I like the meta nature of it being an anthology of Christopher Pike stories within the adaptation of his book as a whole, and Flanagan’s flair for horror is a blast as always. Also: HEATHER LANGENKAMP.
Mike Flanagan’s first proper feature is a low budget but spookily effective and extremely unique film that was mostly crowdfunded by an appeal on Kickstarter. It stars Katie Parker as Callie, who then goes on to have roles in Hill House and Bly Manor, and focusses on a mysterious tunnel which may or may not be abducting people. To say more would ruin it.
I guess I like Absentia more than some of the other more high profile films when getting Mike Flanagan ranked because I think it shows so much potential and originality, and I love that this scrappy little horror ended up launching the career of one of the most well known horror directors of my generation.
A vampiric epic from Flanagan that tells a big and isolated story of small town fear, mob mentality and zealous religion. Midnight Mass has a slow start, but rewards viewers who stick around for its epic and violent conclusion as the highly persuasive Father Paul unleashes an ancient evil upon a small island.
The cast is a who’s who of Flanagan alumni, and the story is one that I find myself thinking on often. Actually really underrated, in my opinion – but I am someone with an almost infinite love for vampire stories.
Hush was actually one of the first Mike Flanagan films I ever watched, potentially THEE first, and my affinity for it is not just sentimental. Hush is home invasion horror at its most terrifying, and with a captivating performance from Mike Flanagan’s wife and frequent collaborator Kate Siegel. Kate plays Maddie, a deaf and mute horror author who finds herself being stalked and attacked by a stranger at her isolated house.
Hush is truly a masterclass in suspense, especially when viewers can see the killer stalking Maddie when we know she has no way of hearing him. It’s short, brutal and thrilling – and Maddie’s resourcefulness is a blast. Also LOVE that the book she’s famous for writing is called Midnight Mass!!!
The Shining is, in my opinion, the best horror film of all time. It’s terrifying, it’s massive, it’s mysterious and it’s lingering. Stephen King’s sequel novel, 2013’s Doctor Sleep, finally got adapted into a fully fledged sequel to The Shining released almost 40 years later. It’s safe to say that expectations for that are sky high, and you’d be hard pressed to find a director more qualified to take the reins than Mike Flanagan.
Doctor Sleep was a horror watch I spent grinning maniacally in my cinema seat. I think it’s an amazing next chapter in the story, starring Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Danny Torrance. But this film belongs to Rebecca Ferguson, who turns in one of the greatest horror villain performances ever as the uniquely terrifying Rose the Hat. Love it.
If there’s one guarantee with Mike Flanagan films and TV shows, it’s that if Carla Gugino makes an appearance she’s going to be absolutely phenomenal. Gerald’s Game is her magnum opus, and film-wise it’s Flanagan’s, too. The Netflix original adaptation of Stephen King’s 90s horror novel, long thought to be unfilmable, is an absolutely terrifying and moving triumph.
After a sex game goes wrong and her husband Gerald dies of a heart attack as Jessie is chained to a bed at a holiday lake house, Jessie finds herself tormented by a possible supernatural presence as well as her childhood demons as she vies to escape from the bed. It’s claustrophobic and nightmarish. WOW.
The Haunting of Hill House is not only the best Mike Flanagan project of anything else ranked here, it is one of the greatest horror pieces I’ve ever seen. Period. Yeah, sure, it’s terrifying – but Hill House is deeper than that. Why? The story it tells is so emotional, the characters so investable, that after several episodes I cried long and I cried HARD.
It’s hard to balance horror and emotional drama, especially because characters in horror have a pesky tendency of needing to die quite a lot for narrative and genre purposes. But with Hill House, a loose adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel of the same name, Mike Flanagan has you right there with the Crains and their traumatic experience at the titular house. Remember when I said Bly Manor had insufferable child casting? None of that here. Every one of the kids has and breaks your heart at some point or another, and they’re so well cast against their adult counterparts.
The Haunting of Hill House is the Avengers Endgame of Flanagan projects – an all-star cast of his alumni telling one of the greatest horror stories ever with a huge Netflix budget, critical acclaim and a bloody amazing script. Twist after twist, tear after tear and truly spine-chilling horror. Perfect.
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• The first episode of The Midnight Club has so many jumpscares it’s broken a world record
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• How long would you last in a horror film? Take this quiz to find out
All you need is a fiver
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Hate that Netflix calls it ‘the Flanaverse’
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Extremely iconic viewing
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Weekend plans? Sorted ✅
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So many Mike Flanagan icons!!
HOW could we forget The Office’s nepotism baby?
‘I look forward to keep recognising the brilliance within the Black community’
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Don’t bring Austin Moon into this
Mike Flanagan ranked: Ranking all film and tv series, & The Midnight Club – The Tab
Hate that Netflix calls it ‘the Flanaverse’