The critical darling Mike Flanagan has held court at Netflix since his breakout adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. A self-described Stephen King fanatic, the writer-director makes his horror projects emotionally compelling journeys, transcending jump scares and standard horror cliches. His adaptations of Stephen King's novels Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep were praised by the best-selling novelist, particularly Gerald’s Game, which King believed to be impossible to adapt.
“I read the script to this one very, very carefully” said King after Flanagan approached him with a feature film adaptation of Doctor Sleep. King went on to say, “Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here.”
Flanagan has created a brand of horror that succeeds in part because of his frequent collaborations. Similar to Ryan Murphy, Quentin Tarantino, and Alfred Hitchcock, Flanagan knows the power of a familiar face on screen, and viewers can’t get enough of seeing these actors assume different roles from one show to the next.
Let’s take a look at some of Flanagan’s regular players.
Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher
With credits ranging from Troop Beverly Hills to the Spy Kids trilogy, the Florida native has always proven herself to be a dynamic actress. It was no surprise she was able to display so much range with Flanagan, making four appearances (if we include a voice cameo in Midnight Mass). Gugino also started production on the latest Flanagan adaptation, The Fall of the House of Usher, which began filming in early 2022.
Most Memorable Appearance: Jessie Burlingame in Gerald’s Game
Ouija: Original of Evil, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher
With six appearances under his belt, and a role in the upcoming The Fall of the House of Usher, Henry Thomas is an indelible figure in the Flanagan universe. He started out as a child actor in E.T. before turning his childhood profession into a lifelong career, with appearances in Legends of the Fall and Gangs of New York.
Most Memorable Appearance: Young Hugh Crain in The Haunting of Hill House (A special mention is in order for his brief appearance as Jack Torrance in Doctor Sleep).
Oculus, Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club, The Fall of the House of Usher
With nine collaborations, why is it we’ve never seen Michael Fimognari before? This cinematographer extraordinaire is one of two non-actors on our list, but he’s probably the most responsible for the consistent visual texture of Flanagan’s work. He is the Dean Cundey to John Carpenter’s Flanagan, and the recognition he creates through cinematography is as important as returning actors.
Most Memorable Appearance: Bringing the Overlook back to frightening life in Doctor Sleep.
The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor
This heartthrob from across the pond has only appeared in two Flanagan series, yet the impression he left is not to be forgotten. Jackson-Cohen is no stranger to horror, with appearances in The Raven and The Invisible Man, opposite Elisabeth Moss. Regarding a possible third chapter in the Haunting series, Mike Flanagan has said, “There are no plans for more chapters.” Will we see them work together on something totally different?
Most Memorable Appearance: Luke Crain in The Haunting of Hill House
Ouija: Origin of Evil, The Haunting of Hill House
The versatile actress is known for iconic roles in The Family Stone, The Twilight Saga, and Grey’s Anatomy. For her work in 2016’s Ouija: Origin of Evil, she praised Flanagan’s use of practical effects. “It makes it harder sometimes because you’re working with magnets and candles and Ouija boards, but ultimately I think that’s really very exciting getting to act with those real elements,” said Reaser. She’s worked with Flanagan twice, and we can only hope more collaborations will happen in the future.
Most Memorable Appearance: Shirley Crain in The Haunting of Hill House
Absentia, Oculus, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club
The multi-talented brother of Mike Flanagan has made eight appearances, both in front of and behind the camera. James Flanagan is noticeably more low-key than his brother, with only 112 followers on Twitter and no Wikipedia page. Spotting James in front of the camera is a welcome challenge for the diehard fans, but maybe we can get a larger role for this writer-actor in an upcoming project?
Most Memorable Appearance: Writer and Story Editor of Midnight Madness episode “Book VI: Acts of the Apostles”
Hush, The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club, The Fall of the House of Usher
With five appearances, including the upcoming The Midnight Club and The Fall of the House of Usher, Sloyan is emerging as an important staple in the Flanagan roster. She previously worked on two Shonda Rhimes helmed shows, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. As much as we’ll always remember her as the doctor who killed Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy, Sloyan has proven herself to be a worthy Scream Queen and we can’t to see what she does next.
Most Memorable Appearance: Sarah Greene in Hush
The Newton Brothers
Oculus, Before I Wake, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, Doctor Sleep, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club
The film score duo of Andy Grush Taylor Newton Stewart call themselves The Newton Brothers and have composed the music for ten Flanagan projects, including 2013’s Oculus which won them second place for Best Score at the Fangoria Chainsaw Awards.
Most Memorable Music: Gerald’s Game
The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor
Just like her on-screen brother Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Victoria Pedretti has only appeared in Flanagan’s Haunting series. Pedretti is notable for starring in two Shirley Jackson projects: Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House and the 2020 biopic Shirley with Elisabeth Moss playing the famous author. Pedretti has been busy with her work on Netflix’s dark series You, but we can only hope she returns to the Flanagan Universe for another spooky outing.
Most Memorable Appearance: Nell Crain in The Haunting of Hill House
Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher
Siegel has wow-ed viewers with her versatile appearances in eight Flanagan projects. She is the real-life wife of the writer-director, which could have made her frequent casting a topic of consternation and criticism, but audiences fell hard in love with Siegel. She is known for taking supporting roles in the Netflix series but always manages to steal the show. Outside of her work with Flanagan, she has made appearances in Ghost Whisperer, Numbers, and Castle. Viewers may not at first realize she is also a writer, penning the screenplay for Hush alongside Flanagan.
Most Memorable Appearance: Maddie Young in Hush
The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Fall of the House of Usher
A fresh face in the Flanagan Canon, British actor Rahul Kohli has proved he has staying power. After early roles in Supergirl, iZombie, and Harley Quinn, Kohli has devoted almost all his acting time to working with Flanagan, with the director even taking to Twitter to call Kohli “one of my favorite actors (and favorite people).”
Most Memorable Appearance: Owen Sharma in The Haunting of Bly Manor
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This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image Credit: Netflix.
Justin McDevitt is a playwright and essayist from New York City. His latest play HAUNT ME had its first public reading at Theater for the New City in September. He is a contributor for RUE MORGUE where he lends a queer eye to horror cinema in his column STAB ME GENTLY.