The king of horror, creator Mike Flanagan, is back with what looks like his last Netflix show, The Fall of the House of Usher.
With some familiar cast members, this time, the story primarily adapts Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, but incorporates characters and references from other Poe stories too.
Almost every aspect of this limited series is based around Poe, even naming the Usher family members after his own characters.
So does the collaboration work, or is it too much of a hodge-podge to be deemed as one of Flanagan's best series?
After all, The Haunting of Hill House is a big shadow to crawl out from under.
What Is The Fall of the House of Usher About?
Let's start at the beginning. Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) and his twin sister, Madeline Usher (Mary McDonnell), are the brother and sister architects of one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, Fortunato Pharmaceuticals.
Despite their tragic upbringing, they have risen through the ranks and now control the multi-billion dollar usher legacy. To secure their position, Roderick's six adult children are all on the board with controlling votes.
Each is reasonably successful in life but constantly strives to be the best. To be the favourite. To be the one that finally makes their father proud.
However, one by one, they start dying in seemingly random accidents, with all six succumbing to their fate in a period of two weeks.
Of course, all is not what it seems, and therein lies the second plot of the show. The past. And exactly how Roderick and Madeline managed to control the company.
It all begins with an enthusiastic investigator, Auguste Dupin (Malcolm Goodwin), who in 1979 managed to convince young Roderick (Zach Gilford) to whistle blow on Fortunato Pharmaceuticals.
More than 40 years later, Dupin is now an Assistant United States Attorney who has been trying to bring the Ushers to justice for most of his career.
As the family lies in ruins, Roderick relays the whole story of the downfall of the family dynasty to him as he tries to make amends for his past misdeeds.
So how and why did each of the Usher family die? Watch The Fall of the House of Usher to find out.
The Fall of the House of Usher Trailer
Is The Fall of the House of Usher Worth Watching?
I want to start by saying that I am a huge Mike Flanagan fan, and there's almost nothing he has made that I haven't seen. So hopes were high, especially when Edgar Allen Poe's short stories inspired him to make this limited series.
The Fall of the House of Usher is excellent to watch, but it's not without its problems. We know within minutes of the first episode that all six children die. So we spend episodes two through seven focused on each of them in turn as they meet their grisly fate.
That pretty much takes all of the mystery out of the show. The only thing that keeps you hanging in there is the resolution of what happened in 1980, which, incidentally, is the better plot of the two timelines.
In the modern-day setting, the siblings are obnoxious, awful people, so seeing them all get bumped off one by one isn't as shocking or depressing as you might think. I'd go so far as to say I was happy to see the back of one or two of them.
It's the 80s story that is the most intriguing so when Usher finally reveals everything that happened since he and Dupin met in the last episode, you will be hooked.
It is an almost perfect episode and the absolute best in the show, not simply because it wraps the storyline up. Everything about it, the setting, the atmosphere, the script, and the direction, has Flanagan written all over it.
That 76 minutes alone makes the whole show worth watching.
What Edgar Allen Poe References Are Used?
To begin with, The Fall of the House of Usher is the name of Poe's 1840 short story.
A master of gothic horror, all of the main characters' names are direct references to the works of Poe.
Verna is an anagram of The Raven, one of Poe's most famous poems, which also includes another character named Lenore.
Tamerlane, Morella, Annabel Lee, and William Wilson are also the names of Edgar Allen Poe's poems.
Prospero is the main character in the story The Masque of the Red Death.
Frederick is the protagonist of the short story Metzengerstein.
Auguste Dupin and Madame L'Espanaye (Camille) are the main characters of The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Arthur Pym is from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym and is the only novel by Poe.
Even Fortunato Pharmaceuticals references a character in The Cask of Amontillado.
The Fall of the House of Usher Cast
Carla Gugino (Gerald's Game) as Verna, a mysterious woman from the Usher twins' past.
Bruce Greenwood and Zach Gilford as Roderick Usher, the corrupt CEO of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals.
Mary McDonnell and Willa Fitzgerald as Madeline Usher, the ambitious COO with a lifelong interest in technological advancements.
Henry Thomas as Frederick Usher, the eldest son and heir to Fortunato.
Samantha Sloyan as Tamerlane Usher, the eldest daughter and an aspiring entrepreneur working on Goldbug, a lifestyle brand.
T'Nia Miller as Victorine LaFourcade, the eldest of Roderick's illegitimate children. She is a gifted surgeon working on an experimental heart device.
Kate Siegel as Camille L'Espanaye, Fortunato's sharp-tongued public relations head, obsessed with collecting and controlling information.
Rahul Kohli (iZombie) as Napoleon “Leo” Usher, one of the illegitimate children and a prominent video game publisher with a drug addiction.
Sauriyan Sapkota as Prospero Usher, the youngest of Roderick's children who lives a hedonistic lifestyle and is desperate for his father's approval.
Mark Hamill as Arthur Gordon Pym, the family's ruthless attorney and fixer.
Kyliegh Curran as Lenore Usher, Frederick and Morella's daughter. She is the best of the Ushers.
Carl Lumbly and Malcolm Goodwin (Reacher) as C. Auguste Dupin, the Assistant United States Attorney who wants to bring the Ushers to justice.
Ruth Codd as Juno Usher, Roderick's second, much-younger wife.
Michael Trucco as Rufus Griswold, the former CEO of Fortunato.
Katie Parker as Annabel Lee, Roderick's first wife and mother of Frederick and Tamerlane.
Matt Biedel as Bill-T Wilson, a fitness influencer and Tamerlane's husband.
Crystal Balint as Morella Usher, Frederick's wife and Lenore's mother.
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