The Fall of the House of Usher: In the opening scenes of The Fall of the House of Usher, we are immediately confronted with the tragic fact that all of Roderick Usher’s children have met their demise. However, it is the unfolding narrative that explores the how and why of their deaths, as skillfully presented in Mike Flanagan’s new horror anthology series, now available on Netflix.
House of Usher draws inspiration from the works of Edgar Allan Poe and meticulously traces the downfall of the affluent Usher family along with their morally compromised drug conglomerate, Fortunato Pharmaceuticals.
The story revolves around Roderick Usher, the family’s patriarch and the CEO of Fortunato, who, at the series’ outset, contacts his long-standing adversary, assistant U.S. attorney C. Auguste Dupin, to confess in the wake of his six adult children’s untimely deaths. These offspring, born to five different mothers, go by the names of Frederick, Tamerlane, Victorine, Napoleon, Camille, and Prospero.
Roderick has been reimagined as the head of a colossal pharmaceutical empire that he co-manages with his twin sister, Madeline. Each episode features flashbacks to a youthful Roderick, Madeline, and Annabel Lee, Roderick’s first wife, offering insights into the Ushers’ rise to wealth.
While these segments are informative, they somewhat slow down the narrative. What truly captivates the audience is observing how Roderick and Madeline’s ruthless and egocentric behavior reverberates through the lives of their estranged children, each one seemingly marked by some of Poe’s most unforgettable literary creations.
Bruce Greenwood masterfully portrays Roderick, the Usher family’s patriarch and the identical twin of Madeline. As the CEO of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, Roderick’s substantial wealth has thus far shielded his offspring from want.
He shares his progeny with five different women, with Frederick and Tamerlane being the children of his former wife, Annabel Lee, the sole woman he ever officially wed. Currently, he is wedded to his second wife, Juno Usher.
Ultimately, the series suggests that perhaps the most potent form of revenge is the pursuit of a fulfilling life. As House of Usher draws to a close, Fortunato Pharmaceuticals has been dismantled, and its vast wealth is being channeled towards benevolent causes. Dupin bids a final farewell to the Ushers, heading home to his own family, fully aware that he now possesses immeasurable riches. This conclusion leaves no room for argument.
In a genre where excessive violence and death can easily veer into gratuitous slasher horror, The Fall of the House of Usher excels in its restrained approach. It retains Flanagan’s signature melancholic exploration of the inescapable and tragic nature of death.
An inexorable conclusion that no supernatural pact can evade. Death can be a consequence or even a release, but it remains an undeniable truth. Attempting to circumvent its grasp only hastens the inevitable collapse of one’s world.