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TV Series Review: The Fall of the House of Usher

Kelaru rating: ★★★★

Available on Netflix | Episodes seen: 8 out of 8

 

I wasn't entirely convinced when I first watched the trailer for this horror series. However, a few intriguing elements caught my attention. First, I've always been a fan of Carla Gugino. She's one of those actors who, in my opinion, hasn't had the chance to showcase her acting skills in a substantial role. The second aspect that piqued my interest was the director, Mike Flanagan. He's known for directing Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, featuring an adult Dan, played by Ewan McGregor. It was surprisingly good, as was his Netflix miniseries, Midnight Mass.

Photo Credit: Netflix

Apart from these factors, I have a simple formula for sifting through the multitude of series available these days. I start with the first episode, and if it captures my interest, I proceed to the second. If the second episode is also engaging, the series earns a spot on my Watchlist and will definitely get watched. It may seem a bit stringent, and I understand that some series improve significantly after the initial episodes, but with the abundance of content nowadays, I can't afford to invest four hours of my life just to reach an outstanding fifth episode.


However, The Fall of the House of Usher is an exception to this rule. The first episode alone is enough to get you hooked. In the midst of the current Golden Age of television, it's refreshing to find a brand new series consisting of just eight episodes, telling a complete story without unnecessary stretching over multiple seasons.


This miniseries weaves a captivating narrative, drawing inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's gothic masterpiece, updated to a modern setting. Fans of Mike Flanagan might anticipate more gore, but this series leans toward the sinister and chilling, with minimal stomach-turning scenes.

As suggested by the trailer, the Usher family could be seen as the less-refined relatives of the Roy family from Succession. The Ushers, who run a pharmaceutical empire, are equally wealthy and out of touch with reality, but they are much more depraved, steeped in excess, and overflowing with arrogance.


The only sane members of the family are Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) and Madeline Usher (Mary McDonell), who masterminded an early takeover of the pharmaceutical conglomerate Fortunado Industries. Bruce Greenwood delivers an exceptional performance, and thanks to a well-crafted script, there are moments that are an absolute joy to watch (you will never look at lemons the same again). In fact, all the actors excel in their roles, thanks to strong dialogue and well-developed, albeit somewhat eccentric, characters.

The family's history unfolds over eight episodes, with six of them named after terrifying Poe tales. Roderick recounts the family's story, while sitting in a leather chair in his decaying childhood home, confessing to Attorney General Auguste Dupin (Carl Lumbly), who has been trying unsuccessfully to charge him for decades. Roderick finds himself in a vulnerable position: all his children have met peculiar and colourful demises, and a mysterious woman from his past (Carla Gugino) has made a disturbing reappearance.


What follows is a grand, intricate, and well-paced exploration of a wealthy family that has spent a lifetime without facing consequences for ruining others' lives. It's a reminder that even for the privileged 1%, there are debts to be paid, and when the time for reckoning arrives, it may come at a bloody cost with accrued interest.


The Fall of the House of Usher is streaming now on Netflix.





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