The Fall of the House of Usher (2023) Series Review: Mike Flanagan’s Darkest Work Yet

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The Fall of the House of Usher (2023) Series Review: Yet Another Win For Mike Flanagan - The Movie Culture

Based on Edgar Allen Poe’s short story of the same name, Mike Flanagan‘s The Fall of the House of Usher redefines the story of two siblings named Roderick and Madeline and how they descent into madness following the death of their heirs. The series will be released on Netflix on October 12, 2023.

The Fall of the House of Usher (2023) Series Cast

  • Bruce Greenwood as Roderick Usher
  • Mary McDonnell as Madeline Usher
  • Carly Lumby as C.Auguste Dupin
  • Ruth Codd as Juno Usher
  • Carla Gugino as Verna

The Fall of the House of Usher Plot

A gothic horror fiction, The Fall of the House of Usher begins with a church scene where Roderick and his granddaughter Lenore are attending a sermon. Roderick feels a sense of unease and witnesses his deceased mother sitting at the back.  The scene then shifts to the dilapidated Usher mansion, where Roderick’s former prosecutor, Auguste Dupin, is invited to finally hear his confession. Similar to the narrator from Poe’s short story, Dupin acts as a listener who shares the curiosity of the readers/viewers.

The scene shifts to 1953 as Roderick recounts his childhood. Bought up by a single mother, he and Madeline made it a point to end the suffering of humanity after seeing the great pains their mum took to educate them. Eliza, an assistant in a pharma company, was abused by CEO William Longfellow and the 20 years that she worked for him took a toll on her life. Despite being buried by her children, Eliza managed to smash open her coffin and strangle Longfellow to death in front of his wife.

Noting that the event was significant to his story, Roderick then introduces his children to the viewers: Frederick (Henry Thomas), Napoleon (Rahul Kohli), Prospero (Sauriyan Sopkota), Tamerlane (Samantha Sloyan), and Morelle (Crystal Ballant). We get to know that a mole leaked information about the malpractices of Roderick and Madeline’s company called Fortunato. 

Mr. Usher issues a bounty on the head of the enemy and makes them sign a non-disclosure agreement. At the end of episode one, viewers get a clear picture of the situation, along with the fact that Roderick is a doomed man as he suffers a stroke the moment he leaves the church.

The Fall of the House of Usher Series (2023) Review: Making Edgar Allan Poe Proud

Scenes in The Fall of the House of Usher continuously shift from the present (Roderick and Dupin’s conversation in the Usher mansion), the immediate past (the time of deaths of the heirs of Usher), and the past (Madeline and Roderick’s childhood and youth). Even though it has a complex plot with multiple prolepsis and analepsis, those who like a good mystery will love to connect the dots and eventually get more meaning out of the story.

Given that there are a lot more characters added to the story, the Netflix series has deviated from the story of the original The Fall of the House of Usher. However, there are some scenes that resemble the short story. Eliza swapped places with Madeline when she rose from her coffin to attack Roderick.  There are also constant hints that the objects inside the house and the Usher mansion itself are sentient beings.

Thought-provoking cliffhangers keep the viewers hooked to the episodic series. Moreover, they don’t feel forced. The pace of the story remains eerily calm during the interaction between Dupin and Roderick and quickens when the latter reveals life-turning chapters of his life. Jumpscares are not very effective; rather, it is the mystery that is more engaging.

Boasting an experienced cast of actors, there is no doubt that the series has delivered remarkably well in bringing out the layers of the characters. Each Usher heir has a different personality and driving motivation. For example, Perry is depicted as a ‘Gucci Caligula’, whose only aim is to stop being branded as a ba**ard and make a name for himself as an Usher but his schemes are never supported by Roderick or Madeline.

The mystery behind Prospero’s hatred for Frederick and his destructive nature is never revealed. Neither is the reason for Verna’s stalking of the Ushers. The series makes viewers search for such answers till the end.  Carla Gugino’s Verna is a shape-shifting demon who is present in almost every crucial moment of the family’s life. 

The only downside to the series is that the viewer may get lost while keeping up pace with the action. There is too much going on in each episode; characters are introduced and eliminated, and their focus could get disrupted due to the flashforwards. A new chapter is revealed about Roderick, while the others remain unanswered or pending as his conversation with Dupin drives his recollection and the narrative as a whole.

The Movie Culture Synopsis

The Fall of the House of Usher is a psychological parable with gothic elements. Roderick continues to lose his grip on reality while Dupin struggles to remain the only sane person in the room. Questions are raised about the motive of every individual in this fascinating, elongated version of Poe’s short story.

Fans of the work of Edgar Allen Poe and Netflix lovers in general will love the upcoming series. Watching The Fall of the House of Usher will be a good start for a spooky Halloween in the month of October.