Flanagan’s latest mystery series has recently dropped on Netflix, giving subscribers another worthy binge over the weekend just in time for the spooky season. The Midnight Club has shone a light on the expanding ‘Flanaverse’ and we explain what this expanse is all about.
The American filmmaker began his career in 2011 with the Kickstarter-funded project Absentia, which paved the way for horrors such as Oculus and Ouija: Origin of Evil.
Created by Flanagan and Leah Fong, The Midnight Club is based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Christopher Pike and follows eight patients who meet up regularly at midnight to share sinister stories while residing in a hospice.
What is the Flanaverse?
The ‘Flanaverse’ simply refers to the collection of movies and television shows created by Mike Flanagan that were released on Netflix.
The creator’s earlier work, including Before I Wake and Hush, were some of the first entries in the collection and the Flanaverse is a dedicated space on the streaming platform for his work to be showcased.
The Flanaverse also includes Flanagan’s acclaimed shows, including The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor.
Other entries in different universes, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Conjuring Universe, are generally all connected by either existing in the same world or timeline, allowing the same characters to appear in a number of projects within the same universe.
However, the Flanaverse is not connected in this way, at least for now, as Flanagan opts to offer an anthology approach to his entries, where the same actors will appear in multiple projects playing different characters and each story is not connected.
There are some subtle Easter eggs hinting at a connected universe that Flanagan drops from time to time, including Maddie Young’s novel ‘Midnight Mass’ that she’s writing in the slasher Hush.
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The Flanaverse Collection in Release Order
Unlike the MCU, which has a release order and chronological order to keep in mind, the Flanaverse has no specific order in which to watch the creator’s projects.
Most viewers opt to view Flanagan’s work in release order if they plan to binge his entire portfolio, so we’ll recreate this list below.
It’s also important to note that the Flanaverse does not include Flanagan’s earlier work, including Oculus and Ouija: Origin of Evil, as they were not released on Netflix.
Hush has remained an underrated gem in the slasher genre, seeing the Flanaverse debut of Kate Siegel as deaf-mute horror author Maddie.
While Maddie is vacationing from her home in New York City to write her novel in an isolated cabin in the woods, she is soon terrorized by a masked killer and she has to find a way to survive the attack and escape.
The slasher received critical acclaim from horror fans and critics, including writer Stephen King and The Exorcist director William Friedkin singing its praises.
Before I Wake (2016)
Dark fantasy horror Before I Wake released in the same year as Hush and follows a couple who adopt a boy whose dreams and nightmares manage to physically appear when he is sleeping.
Starring Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, and Jacob Tremblay, the only Flanaverse star to appear in this entry is Midnight Mass’ Annabeth Gish.
Before I Wake did not receive the same popularity as Flanagan’s previous slasher, but the entry continued to showcase the creator’s unique ideas.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
Based on the 1992 Stephen King novel of the same name, Gerald’s Game became one of those movies that everyone was talking about in 2017, for its abstract plot and nightmarish images.
Starring The Haunting of Hill House and Bly Manor’s Carla Gugino, the psychological horror thriller followed a married couple who attempt to restore their intimacy in a holiday home, only for the husband to suffer a heart attack while the wife is left handcuffed to the bed without a key.
What sounded like a kinky entry of voyeurism on paper soon developed into the protagonist’s confrontation of her inner demons – King and Flanagan would never lead us astray.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
The first of Flanagan’s Netflix shows arrived in 2018 titled The Haunting of Hill House and the miniseries quickly got the reputation of being one of the scariest shows out there.
Seeing the return of Carla Gugino and Kate Siegel, alongside Flanaverse debuts Henry Thomas, Michiel Huisman, Victoria Pedretti, Elizabeth Reaser, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen, the emotional core of Hill House soon had every viewer reaching for the Kleenex.
Following the Crain family who move into the renovated Hill House, the story follows two timelines: One when the kids are young and living in Hill House and the other when the kids are now adults and still dealing with the trauma of living there.
The ten-part series has a number of awards, including Best Series from the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards, and will stand the test of time as one of the true, great ghost stories.
Doctor Sleep (2019)
The following year saw Flanagan tackle the anticipated sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, based on the 2013 novel sequel of the same name by King.
Starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, and Kyliegh Curran, Flanaverse stars Bruce Greenwood, Jacob Tremblay, and Henry Thomas also return to follow Jack Torrance’s son Danny, who is still traumatized by the events that occurred at the Overlook hotel in 1980.
The sequel was generally well-received by horror fans and made $72.2 million at the worldwide box office, before being added to the Netflix catalog.
The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
The Haunting of Bly Manor officially kickstarted The Haunting anthology series within the Flanaverse, which many hope will continue.
Seeing the return of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Henry Thomas, it was also the Flanaverse debut of Rahul Kohli.
Bly Manor followed American au pair Dani Clayton who was hired by a businessman to take care of his niece and nephew at the Bly estate. However, Dani quickly began to experience apparitions and a dark force that also resided at the estate.
This second anthology was a worthy successor to Hill House and arguably packed more of an emotional punch than Hill House.
Midnight Mass (2021)
A year later and Flanagan escorted Netflix subscribers to Crockett Island in Midnight Mass, following the return of a young man after his prison sentence and a priest that seemed to be behind a number of chilling events.
Midnight Mass saw the return of Kate Siegel, Henry Thomas, and Rahul Kohli, alongside the Flanaverse debut of Zach Gilford, Igby Rigney, and Hamish Linklater.
The seven-part series was another hit with subscribers who praised the show’s unsettling atmosphere and themes of grief and faith.
The Midnight Club (2022)
Finally, we arrive at The Midnight Club, the latest mystery-thriller in the Flanaverse that has, so far, been well-received by viewers.
Following terminally ill patients at Brightcliffe Hospice who sneak out of their rooms and head to the library to tell scary stories at midnight, the ten-part series welcomes back Rahul Kohli, Igby Rigney, Samantha Sloyan, Annarah Cymone, and Henry Thomas.
Flanagan has confirmed that he designed The Midnight Club to extend past the first season, and it’s the first time a show of his has not been billed as a miniseries.
We will update this list with every new entry into the Flanaverse.
The Fall of the House of Usher Comes Next
The next project of Flanagan’s entering the Flanaverse will be the horror drama The Fall of the House of Usher, which is scheduled to premiere sometime in 2023.
The project has been labeled as another miniseries, meaning its narrative will be capped to one season, and the series is based on the short story of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe.
The story of gothic fiction follows the unidentified narrator arriving at the house of Roderick Usher, after being summoned to help the man and his sister who have fallen ill and experience severe trances.
Carla Gugino, Rahul Kohli, Henry Thomas, Kate Siegel, Zach Gilford, and Annabeth Gish are just a few names from the Flanaverse returning for The Fall of the House of Usher, alongside Mark Hamill, who will be making his Flanaverse debut.
By Jo Craig – [email protected]
The Midnight Club is now streaming on Netflix.