The Fall of the House of Usher review: Succession meets Edgar Allan Poe fan fiction

The opioid crisis has been a source of inspiration for various forms of media, including books, documentaries, and TV shows. While many of these works focus on the tragic consequences of Purdue Pharma’s actions, Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher takes a different approach. Created by Mike Flanagan, known for his eerie storytelling, this series uses the works of Edgar Allan Poe to delve into the moral decay of a powerful fictional family involved in a sinister drug empire.

Set in a dilapidated mansion, the story follows Roderick Usher, the CEO of Fortunato Pharmaceuticals, as he reveals the dark secrets of his family’s past to federal prosecutor Auguste Dupin. Through a series of flashbacks, viewers witness the downfall of Roderick’s six children, each named after Poe characters, as they succumb to greed, addiction, and paranoia.

The Fall of the House of Usher is filled with clever references to Poe’s works, from character names to thematic elements. The show explores themes of death, greed, and revenge, mirroring Poe’s own fascination with these topics. Each of Roderick’s children meets a grim fate, echoing the tragic endings found in Poe’s stories.

While the series has its moments of creepy storytelling and strong performances, particularly from actors like Henry Thomas and Carla Gugino, it struggles with pacing issues and a lack of character development. The focus on elaborate death scenes for each child detracts from the potential for deeper exploration of their personalities and motivations.

Despite its flaws, The Fall of the House of Usher offers a chilling take on the opioid crisis through the lens of Poe’s gothic tales. While it may not reach the heights of Flanagan’s previous work, it still delivers an unsettling experience for fans of horror and literary adaptations. Grade: B

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