The Fall of the House of Usher (2023)
Director: Mike Flanagan (Eps.1 – 2, 5 – 6); Michael Fimognari (Eps. 3 – 4, 7 -8)
Teleplay by: Mike Flanagan (Ep. 1); Emmy Grinwis and Mike Flanagann (Ep. 2); Justina Ireland and Mike Flanagan (Ep. 3); Mat Johnson and Mike Flanagan (Ep. 4); Dani Parker (Ep. 5); Rebecca Leigh Klingel and Mike Flanagan (Ep. 6);Jamie Flanagan and Mike Flanagan (Ep. 7); Mike Flanagan and Kiele Sanchez (Ep. 8)
Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood, Mary McDonnell, Henry Thomas, Rahul Kohli, Samantha Sloyan, T’Nia Miller, Zach Gilford, Willa Fitzgerald, Michael Trucco, Katie Parker, Matt Biedel, Crystal Balint, Ruth Codd, Kyliegh Curran, Carl Lumbly, Kate Siegel, Sauriyan Sapkota, Malcolm Goodwin and Mark Hamill.
Roderick Usher (Greenwood) and his sister Madeline (McDonnell) teamed to take over Fortunato Pharmaceuticals. Along the way they fudged test results, broke laws, lied under oath, ruined lives and committed at least one murder. Now, decades later Roderick is CEO of Fortunato and one of the richest men on the planet. His sister remains his trusted partner. Over the years Roderick fathered several children from different mothers. Now the kids are grown and using daddy’s money to try to build their own dynasties. But when Roderick’s offspring begin dying under unusual circumstances, one after the other, we learn what happened all those years ago that leads to The Fall of the House of Usher.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
Mike Flanagan has created another winner. Rather than a literal adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Flannigan has given us modern interpretations of many of Poe’s short stories, poems and characters integrated into a single, unified story. This is genius.
The Fall of the House of Usher features an amazing cast. I would not be surprised to several Emmy nominations from this production. Standouts include:
- Carla Gugino: who owns every scene she is in. I will be disappointed if she isn’t recognized for a Best Actress nod.
- Bruce Greenwood: He’s perfect as Roderick Usher. The role was originally cast with Frank Langella. Problems on the set led to Greenwood getting the role and I would be hard pressed to say anyone could have done it better.
- Henry Thomas gives the performance of his life.
- Samantha Sloyan: I first became aware of her in Mike Flannigan’s Midnight Mass. She was amazing there. She’s also amazing here.
- Carl Lumbly: was a great choice to go head to head in many scenes with Greenwood. Lumbly, like the audience, slowly learns what has and is happening.
- Mark Hamill: totally nails the role of the Usher Family’s attorney and “fixer”. I’ll admit I was surprised at just how good Hamill is as the older, tough guy who has seen and done things we can’t imagine.
While I’ve turned the spotlight on the actors/actresses above, every member of the cast was excellent. Mike Flannigan writes a great story, gets the right people for each part and then assists them in creating amazing performances. The Fall of the House of Usher is an perfect example. I look forward to what Flannigan does next.