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  • Writer's pictureWill Scarbrough

Review: The Fall of the House of Usher

In this wicked series based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, ruthless siblings Roderick and Madeline Usher have built Fortunato Pharmaceuticals into an empire of wealth, privilege and power. But past secrets come to light when the heirs to the Usher dynasty start dying at the hands of a mysterious woman from their youth.


Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly, Mark Hamill,

Michael Trucco, T’Nia Miller, Paola Nuñez, Henry Thomas, Kyleigh Curran, Samantha Sloyan, Rahul Kohli, Kate Siegel, Sauriyan Sapkota, Zach Gilford, Willa Fitzgerald, Katie Parker, Malcolm Goodwin, Crystal Balint, Aya Furukawa, Daniel Jun, Matt Biedel, Ruth Codd, Annabeth Gish, Igby Rigney and Robert Longstreet.


In Fall of the House of Usher, we embark on a rollercoaster journey that leaves viewers divided between initial disappointment and eventual captivation. This supernatural series showcases a blend of positives and negatives, ultimately delivering a polarizing experience for its audience.


The initial episodes of the series are marked by a lack of intrigue and conceptual depth. Viewers might find themselves questioning whether they've missed the essence of the story, as the screenplay feels strangely dull despite the unfolding events. The comedic lines, intended to provide levity, often fall flat, leaving an emptiness in the humour department. Furthermore, the utilization of cheap jump scares with cliché sound effects proves jarring and out of place, detracting from the overall immersion. The attempt to infuse comedy into the storyline, while admirable, doesn't consistently hit the mark and can feel disconnected.


However, the series isn't without its redeeming qualities. Bruce Greenwood's performance is a tour de force, with his commanding screen presence and booming vocals that reverberate through the screen. His monologues are nothing short of brilliant, showcasing his mastery of the craft. The chemistry between Greenwood and Carl Lumby in dialogue scenes adds immense depth to the series when things start to fall into place, with Lumby's subtly great performance complementing Greenwood's powerhouse presence.


As the series progresses into its second half, a transformation occurs. Cinematography becomes slick and precise, elevating the visual experience. The screenplay tightens, becoming sharper and more complex, with narrative structure emerging as a notable highlight. Usher boasts excellent production design and costuming, effectively immersing viewers in its world. Music and sound design play pivotal roles in setting the mood and atmosphere, enhancing the overall experience.


Carla Gugino and Willa Fitzgerald shine in their supporting roles, enriching the ensemble cast. What truly sets Usher apart is the uniqueness of its directing style. Certain shots are visually striking, leaving an indelible impression. The horror elements, when they come into play, are both effective and distinctive, capturing the essence of the series.


In conclusion, Fall of the House of Usher is a series of two halves. The initial episodes might leave viewers questioning its direction, but the second half transforms it into a captivating narrative with strong performances, compelling cinematography, and a tighter screenplay. Fans of Mike Flanagan's previous work are likely to find something to love in this series, despite its initial shortcomings. While it stumbles at the starting line, it ultimately finds its stride and delivers a unique and memorable viewing experience.


The Fall of the House of Usher invites viewers on a journey of patience, promising an eventual reward for those who stick with it. It serves as a testament to the power of character-driven storytelling and demonstrates how a slow burn can ignite into a roaring blaze of intrigue and creativity. Though flawed in its early episodes, this series finds redemption, making it an exciting addition to the repertoire of supernatural dramas in the television landscape. The themes are strong & it'll be one to be analysed for years to come.


4 / 5

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