In Mike Flanagan’s latest, THE HOUSE OF USHER (Netflix), Edgar Allan Poe’s stories get a modern twist in this Gothic horror miniseries about the fall of a family and the dark side of capitalism.
Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood) ruthlessly runs Fortunato, a pharmaceuticals company, with his sister Madeline (Mary McDonnell). He has led a charmed life of wealth and power, but tragedy has taken aim at him as his children begin dying one by one in horrific freak accidents. As his family legacy dies, he must face the deal he made decades ago, one that produced a dire curse.
This was a ton of fun, offering everything you may love about Flanagan’s brand of character-focused horror, from its recurring performers to the great dialogue to its big themes. In this case, the theme is capitalism, and man, he holds nothing back. The mismanagement of wealth while vast problems that wealth could solve go unchecked, corruption, never having enough wealth even after one has more than one can spend, confusion of wealth with being superior, the destruction of people and the environment, and how vast wealth corrupts one’s morals and spirit. This was one of my favorite aspects of the show.
Besides that, the Poe Easter eggs are fun, but what I really enjoyed was the modern retelling of classic tales like “The Masque of the Red Death,” expertly woven into the overarching story with plenty of solid twists. The Usher kids are all utterly corrupt, and their deaths have a fun comeuppance and sense of justice to them while also being sad, as they realize what they could have been if it hadn’t been for the money. The deaths are often grisly and make Gothic scary again.
Overall, I loved this one and highly recommend it. It’s effective, thoughtful, and a ton of fun.