The Fall of Usher (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Fall of Usher (2021) Review

Horrorific content by christina on December 23rd, 2022 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Mind Bender, Love Sick, Drama, Psychological, Madness, Mystery, Dysfunctional Family, Dangerous Exploration, B-Horror, Arthouse

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It's about a young man caring for his terminally ill father who gets pulled into a maelstrom of murder, madness, and the macabre.

The Fall of Usher was directed by Brian Cunningham and stars Riker HillSavannah SchaferSpencer KorczMichael R. McGuireRita HightJames TackettCristina Mullins BrownJason L. WatsonJoey Arena, and Max Osborne.

The Fall of Usher (2022) Review

The title card for The Fall of Usher states that the film is "Told in the Style & Substance of A.E. Poe by one William W. Usher". This is a reference to the fact that the film is based on the works of American author Edgar Allan Poe. The film then cuts to William looking directly into the camera as he addresses the audience. He speaks in the style of one of Poe's characters, a modern setting notwithstanding. The narrator's voice will continue to be a part of the film, providing an odd, jarring contrast to the main story. Title cards will also continue to be used throughout the film.

William's father is terminally ill, and he has been tasked with taking care of him. Anna is sent to check on his condition and to deliver pain medication. She is clear that her role is not to cure him but to make him comfortable. Unfortunately, William falls in love with her, and his madness begins when she is replaced.

Writer/director Brian Cunningham seems primarily interested in capturing the feel and themes of author Edgar Allan Poe's works rather than making a straight adaptation. His latest project focuses on the family at the center of Poe's most famous work.

The Fall of Usher captures the dark themes of murder, suicide, madness, and substance abuse. These themes are often found in Gothic stories, and The Fall of Usher does an excellent job capturing them. There are also more direct references to Edgar Allan Poe's work, such as the sound of a music box, which haunts William even after it has been destroyed. This is similar to how the beating of the victim's heart haunted the narrator in "The Tell-Tale Heart."

The main problem with Edgar Allan Poe's work is that, although it is often dark and atmospheric, it is rarely genuinely scary. He was instrumental in inventing the modern detective story, but his writing rarely manages to be genuinely frightening. Instead, the horror in many of Poe's stories comes from a sense of dread about what might happen rather than from shocking or scary moments.

The Fall of Usher is more of a dark, moody drama than outright horror. It tells the story of William Usher, whose mental health declines along with his father's physical health. The film shifts between past and present, revealing how the Usher family's decline has affected William. His brother, Wilson's death, preyed on what sanity remained for him, and his interaction with Wilson after his death only deepened his mental instability.

The film has a limited number of sets and a minimal cast, which can be a problem since it doesn't show William's mental condition very well. However, scenes of him walking around the dark hallways of the house help to depict his mental state somewhat. After a while, seeing the same thing over and over again in a small place can become tedious. Similarly, the constant narration can start to become irritating. The use of narration needs to be reduced. And apart from the opening, the scenes of William looking into the camera and delivering soliloquies should be removed entirely.

Worth Watching? 

The Fall of Usher delivers little in the way of shocks but manages to create a lot of atmospheres. Like Lady Usher and The Bloodhound, it takes a unique approach to Poe's work. This film won't appeal to everyone, but it will find a more receptive audience among the author's fans. If you're in the mood for a quirky, slow-paced movie, "The Fall of Usher" is worth a watch.

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