The Reel Review
Dark family secrets are exposed when the six adult children of a pharmaceutical empire’s patriarch start mysteriously dying in gruesome ways, in this Netflix horror series very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales of terror, its title taken from his iconic 1839 short story.
With the macabre deaths of each of the adult children based on modern twists of Poe’s various works, creator Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) has created a clever and stylish ode to the gothic writer. Poe Easter eggs abound, with action reminiscent of HBO’s Succession, only in this case it is all the would-be successors who are dying. Among the acting standouts leading the cast of Flanagan often-used actors are Bruce Greenwood and Mary McDonnell as the siblings helming the crumbling empire, Mark Hamill as their attorney/righthand man Arthur Pym, and Carla Gugino as the chameleon-like, one-woman wrecking crew.
At its heart, the series is an allegory about the selfish indulgence of the Baby Boomers, who ruined the environment, hoarded wealth and left the younger generation to pay the tab. The series, however, at times gets bogged down in its own convoluted, overly wordy storytelling. Episodes 2 and 6 are standouts. With the lack of content due to the recently-ended writers’ strike, The Fall of the House of Usher is a welcome Halloween season entry.
• Frank Langella originally was cast as the patriarch Roderick Usher, but he was fired and replaced with Bruce Greenwood following an investigation of allegations of harassment on-set.
• Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, and Kate Siegel also co-starred in director Mike Flanagan’s 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s horror thriller Gerald’s Game.
• Mike Flanagan, creator of The Fall of the House of Usher, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, married Kate Siegel in 2016. They have two children together and Mike a son from his prior marriage.