WARNING! This article contains spoilers for The Fall of the House of Usher’s ending!
- The death of Rufus “Gris” Griswold in The Fall of the House of Usher is reminiscent of William Hill’s death in The Haunting of Hill House.
- Gris’ fate of being sealed into a brick wall bears a striking resemblance to how William Hill was found in the walls of the titular home in Hill House.
- The Fall of the House of Usher repeats several tragic themes and deaths from The Haunting of Hill House, including blackouts, visions of supernatural figures, burns, and fatal falls.
The mystery surrounding one ghost’s death in The Haunting of Hill House is unexpectedly broken down in Mike Flanagan’s 2023 Netflix horror show The Fall of the House of Usher. While the Flanaverse sees plenty of themes, actors, and elements overlap across the filmmaker’s horror series, the plots and characters aren’t explicitly connected in the same universe. However, Flanagan often returns to certain fates and motifs in his TV shows as nods to his other works, with the fate of one character in The Fall of the House of Usher’s ending including a connection to his first Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House.
It wouldn’t be the conclusion of a Mike Flanagan horror show without numerous grim character deaths, with The Fall of the House of Usher featuring several across various timelines. Among those who die in The Fall of the House of Usher is Rufus “Gris” Griswold, the former head of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals and young Roderick’s boss. The show’s flashbacks to 1979 reveal that Roderick and Madeline murdered Gris during a work party, having chained him to a wall, sealed him into the Fortunato basement, and let him slowly suffocate and starve to death behind a wall of bricks. Gris’s death is a huge catalyst for the show’s events, which happens to resemble the demise of a Hill House ghost.
Gris’s Death In House Of Usher Shows How William Hill Was Killed In Hill House
Gris’ fate of being chained up and fatally sealed into the brick wall of a building is oddly familiar in the Flanaverse, as this was the same death experienced by William Hill in The Haunting of Hill House. When Hugh Crain is tearing down a seemingly mold-infested wall in the titular home, he stumbles upon the body of William Hill, who had been missing since 1948. The Haunting of Hill House revealed that William had “walled” himself in, but ended up trying to scratch his way out. The scratches of William’s ghost trying to escape are often heard by Hugh, similar to Roderick hearing the jingle of the bells of Gris’ jester costume in The Fall of the House of Usher.
While The Haunting of Hill House only depicted the aftermath of William’s death with his skeleton being found in the walls, The Fall of the House of Usher shows the actual process of a character being killed in this manner. Gris’ body is never recovered in The Fall of the House of Usher, so in the same way that the 2023 series explains how William’s death would have happened, Hill House explains what would have become of Gris’ body several decades later. Of course, both deaths and their long-undisturbed burials are homages to Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Cask of Amontillado, in which a man is entombed within catacombs.
Fall Of The House Of Usher Repeats Several Hill House Tragedies
Gris’ death isn’t the only tragedy in The Fall of the House of Usher that mirrors a character’s tragedies in Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House. The death of Tamerlane Usher bears some similarities to Olivia Crain’s experiences prior to her tragic demise, as both were subject to inexplicable blackouts and visions of supernatural figures. While Tamerlane would see the shape-shifting Verna between her blackouts, Olivia would often see Poppy Hill and other ghosts between her blackouts.
Perry Usher’s death of being burned alive by acid is also similar to the fate of Edward Hill, aka the Basement Ghost, whose mysterious death included severe burns. Furthermore, both Olivia Crain and Napoleon Usher fall to their deaths. Similar to the tragedies that befell The Haunting of Hill House’s titular family, The Fall of the House of Usher’s eponymous family experiences gruesome ends.