The Fall of the House of Usher movie review & Film Summary (2023)

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The Fall of the House of Usher movie review :

With its expansive storyline of the demise of a wealthy American family, “The Fall of the House of Usher” adapts Edgar Allen Poe’s most well-known stories for the age of Big Pharma. The Tell-Tale Heart meets “Succession” in this tale of retribution, power, betrayal, and gory bits. However, Mike Flanagan’s skill and his collection of returning actors keep this pendulum swinging through eight gory episodes of horror television that should interest any fans of “The Haunting of Hill House” or “Midnight Mass.” It can occasionally feel simultaneously overcrowded in its cramming in of various sources and narratively thin at the same time. It’s a standout in a month with shockingly few new horror-themed streaming series and movies.

Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) invites C. Auguste Dupin (Carl Lumbly), a detective, to his house late one stormy night. He offers to tell the whole tale about his family’s violent and criminal past. Immediately, Poeheads should have a raised eyebrow as Dupin is a Poe character from works other than the one that gives this project a title, but Netflix and Flanagan’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” only uses the titular 1839 Poe story as the torso of the skeleton, attaching limbs based on other Poe works to it, including The Masque of the Red Death, Murder in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven, and many more.

All of these terrifying images are connected to the family drama that the Ushers provide for Dupin, giving the season a brilliant episodic structure that incorporates a different Poe source into the overarching story of the Ushers in each chapter.

It turns out that the horrific horror has severed practically every branch of the Usher family tree. How does Usher have access to such graphic information? Usher claims, “I know because they told me. Before they passed away?, Dupin queries. He responds with, “No, not before,” providing one of the show’s numerous examples of Flanagan’s cruelly dark comedy. (Poe also had one.) Roderick has been plagued by the ghosts of all his terrible children who have passed away, and he is finally ready to come clean because he feels that the ghosts are coming for him.

He is experiencing visions of terrifying spirits, including Verna (Carla Gugino), a person who appears frequently in these tall tales as a type of vindictive force of karma, the devil coming to exact revenge on a man who benefited from the suffering of others.

In a new portrayal, Usher is seen as the co-founder and co-CEO of a sizable pharmaceutical company alongside his twin sister Madeline (Mary McDonnell). Each episode features flashback scenes featuring a young Roderick (Zach Gilford), Madeline (Willa Fitzgerald), and Roderick’s first wife Annabel Lee (Katie Parker). Although they explain how the Ushers amassed their wealth, these are a bit of a drag on the story. It matters that Roderick and Madeline are ruthless, self-centered individuals; less important is how they came to be that way. What’s more fascinating is to observe how Roderick’s numerous children were affected by their choices, as they were all torn apart by some of Poe’s most iconic works.

But Flanagan is astute enough to adapt Poe’s stories just a little bit for a contemporary audience. In addition to “The Gold-Bug” being reinterpreted as a new brand for the Usher company, his rendition of The Tell-Tale Heart is a contemporary masterpiece. But the recurring themes—guilt, obsession, vengeance, and a sense of justice from the supernatural—remain the same. Not just because they are the fruit of a very poisonous tree, but also because they made terrible decisions to remain in the safety of riches and luxury, Roderick Usher’s children are receiving what they deserve.

The reality behind the deaths of Camille L’Espanaye (Kate Siegel), Leo Usher (Rahul Kohli), Victorine LeFourcade (T’Nia Miller), Tamerlane Usher (Samantha Sloyan), and Frederick Usher (Henry Thomas) is revealed in “The Fall of the House of Usher” as well as Prospero’s destiny, which is just the first in the play. The mysterious Arthur Pym, played by Mark Hamill, who serves as a sort of mediator for the Ushers and is completely remade from the titular character of Poe’s only complete novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, slides through it all.

The season’s overall narrative of “The Fall of the House of Usher” sags in some areas when viewed from a distance. Particularly when compared to the malicious humor on display in the Usher children’s fortunes, the most of the flashbacks to a young Usher and Dupin are lackluster. When Flanagan and colleagues could have pushed further harder into the episodic structure that focuses one Poe per chapter, it feels like padding to make programs a full hour long. The fact that Flanagan’s direction is snappy throughout, with superb use of music and precise editing—some sequences are excessively underlit, but that’s just the Netflix brand these days, and I’m done fighting it—makes it an amazingly simple program to appreciate episode by episode.

It definitely helps “The Fall of the House of Usher” that Flanagan reunited so many of his familiar faces, even though the writing is entertaining and the source material is as fantastic as it comes. Everyone in this room is good; some, notably Greenwood and McDonnell, are exceptional. The former makes use of his inherent ability to hold a room’s attention, whilst the latter accepts a juicy part and fully embraces it. While more entertaining, exaggerated performances, like those of Thomas and Hamill, can chew some scenery, Lumbly’s decision to never wink at the camera adds seriousness to the performance. The incredible potential of what an imaginative individual like Mike Flanagan could do with Edgar Allen Poe has brought this band together.

Poe rarely gave his characters the opportunity to feel forgivable, so part of that potential feels too unchecked and amorphous.

The entire series was seen for evaluation. On Netflix today, “The Fall of the House of Usher” premieres.

 

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