Roderick Usher, and his twin sister Madeline, have it all- money, fame, and in Roderick's case, many children. Roderick is head of a huge pharmaceutical corporation, with Madeline as COO, while the younger Ushers live lives of privilege. Then, one day, a deal the two siblings struck in their youth comes back to destroy everything they have built.
Mary McDonnell as Madeline confronts Verna.
The Fall of the House of Usher is a horror mini series created by Mike Flanagan, the creator of Midnight Mass , The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Midnight Club . It's loosely based on many of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, and features many of the same actors who appear in Flanagan's other shows.
Rahul Kohli as Napoleon Usher, having a very bad day.
Carla Gugino (from The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor) is Verna, the mysterious woman whose reappearance in the twins' lives spells the beginning of the end. Rahul Kohli (also from Flanagan's other shows) is Napoleon "Leo" Usher, who of all the Usher children possibly deserves his terrible fate the least. Actually, it might be a tie between him and his sister Tamerlane (Samantha Sloyan from Midnight Mass, The Good Doctor and Grey's Anatomy).
Carla Gugino as Verna.
There are too many excellent performances in this show to possibly mention them all in a single review. Mary McDonnell (from Battlestar Gallactica) is wonderful as the cunning present day Madeline Usher, while Willa Fitzgerald is chilling as the young Madeline in flashback scenes. Carl Lumbly (from Doctor Sleep and Cagney and Lacey) is Auguste Dupin, the detective to whom Roderick eventually confides the whole sordid story and one of the few wholly likeable characters. Kyliegh Curran (from Doctor Sleep) was believable as Roderick's innocent granddaughter, Lenore. However, the most impressive performance was from Mark Hamill as Roderick's lawyer, Arthur Gordon Pym.
Carl Lumbly as Auguste Dupin.
Poe fans will enjoy spotting all the references to his work, from parts of the plot to the characters' names. There are seven episodes, each named after the title, or a line from one of his stories or poems. The rich cinematography and gloomy colour palette help to bring the atmosphere of a Poe story to life. The plots are far fetched, but totally in keeping with the tone of Poe's work. Each episode features at least one elaborate, usually gruesome, death scene, making this show not for the faint of heart.
Death. Lots of death.
This series did not tug on my heart strings the way Flanagan's other shows did, being largely about revenge and poor decision making rather than grief and loss, the way that The Haunting of Hill House was . However, I did feel sorry for several of the characters, even sometimes those who brought their own destruction on themselves.
The Fall Of the House of Usher is a gripping mini series, full of beautiful and grotesque scenes of terror. I'd recommend it to fans of Poe, as well as Flanagan's other work. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
Content warning: There are scenes involving cruelty to animals, and domestic abuse.