bingefire.com NEWSROOM Netflix’ The Fall of the House of Usher is an Adaptation That Doesn’t Get the Original Netflix’ The Fall of the House of Usher is an Adaptation That Doesn’t Get the Original Edgar Allan Poe is famous for his introspective novels that explore the frontier of our cognition. Mike Flanagan, on the other hand, slips on human ego like a frog on ice, making The Fall of the House of Usher merely pretending an adaptation. bingefire originalsKarol Laska16 November 2023 Source: The Fall of the House of Usher, Mike Flanagan, 2023i Eight episodes, eight adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe's works, and eight deaths of main characters (announced at the very beginning of the show) – this is The Fall of the House of Usher in essence. When viewers start watching individual episodes, they immediately notice that various themes from the gothic novellas of the master of the macabre appear at every turn, in unexpected combinations and interpretations. The concept alone was enough for me to dive into the series with great enthusiasm (as I always crave originality). Especially since the pilot is genuinely tempting, promising a great mystery to uncover, a series of characters to get to know, and no small number of moral dilemmas of the modern world to discuss. "Guaranteed Netflix hit," I thought. So, what do I think after watching the whole season? Well, I won't be surprised if The Fall of the House Usher actually conquers the world with its cleverness and "mystery of the week" style. However, if you look at the show with the eye of a demanding viewer or an admirer of Poe's literature, there is only one conclusion – it's an empty jumble of clues and gimmicks, which excels neither in horror, nor saying anything new, nor in captivating with an intrigue or psychological layer. Far from the bookMike Flanagan uses characters and stories from Poe's works to recount the tale of Roderick Usher and his family, but in a version that’s only loosely connected to the book under the same title. Expect Succession, only filled with horror and grotesque, with worse dialogues, and a cast of characters that are equally corrupted by money and power. The head of the family is visited in an abandoned mansion by C. Auguste Dupin, his former friend and current nemesis. They are having one last conversation after years of legal scrambling over the negative impact of Usher's opioids on the health and lives of many consumers around the world. During the meeting, Roderick wants to confess to the charges against him and explain the death of all his children within an unusually brief timeframe. The viewer witnesses this confession, flavored with terrifying delusions, through flashbacks with a characteristic greenish-browning filter known, for instance, from Mindhunter, or through retrospections a little closer to the present, as they directly illustrate the tragic fate of the Ushers. Although at the beginning, this narrative appears refined, episodic, multi-layered, and overwhelming, over time we quickly start to perceive a clear division into three timelines, along with a less subtle approach to recounting past events. Also, from the beginning, the series structure is fresh – even such a common element as the title screen appearing only at the very end of the episode, right after the character's death – can be intriguing. Nevertheless, each subsequent story looks almost the same, leading to a predictable ending, and the viewer's interest quickly dissolves into a monotonous anticipation of murder. The creators have very few interesting things to say, even though dialogue plays a prominent role here. However, we often see scenes with similar content. Further flashbacks depict, one after another, the conversations of young Usher with his hated boss or wife, which don't bring anything new to the story, but rather remind us ad nauseam that capitalism, classism, and corporatism are evil. Agreed, but this could be subtler. Furthermore, instead of developing, the characters of Usher's sons and daughters are turned into one-dimensional victims of fate, destined to die, constantly shouting that they have money, won't hesitate to use them, and, in general, don't talk to us, you beggars! Because of this, their deaths didn't really concern me, even though they were spectacular and bizarre. I treated them as martyrs of a curse resulting from chosen narrative devices. It has to be admitted that the screenwriters know how to pull off a scheme. Except they do it too often. For instance, I watched some ridiculous discussions regarding the influence of artificial intelligence on the originality of cultural texts (and this debate is never revisited in the series) or satirical attempts to criticize modern media using Zuckerberg's face (seems a hypocrisy coming from Netflix?). How does this align with a dark tale of unrealized aspirations, family dramas, and self-centered desires? Well, it doesn't. Dark romanticism? No, just postmodernismI think it's a bold and necessary idea to modernize the intense internal monologues from Poe's prose and enrich them with motifs that are closer to our reality, regardless of the quality of the script, in the era of the so-called “end of narrative.” It's great to learn from the best and refresh a slightly insulated message that’s contained within these dusty pages. The Fall of the House of Usher motivated me to read all the novels (including one poem), which correspond to the eight episodes of the series. To see how Flanagan updates this content on the screen. And also, I really liked Poe. The series, however, has greatly disappointed me overall. It's no wonder because it's a clash of writing mastery with a show, whose ambitions quickly falter under the unpleasant burden of high concept. I did smile when, towards the end of the episode, a monkey appeared for obvious reasons, when a pendulum hung over one of the characters, when someone whispered from behind the wall, and when a black cat spread terror and destruction just by being there. Poe's ideas are indeed concealed in all of this, but they boil down to plot gimmickry, rather than sophisticated literary motifs. The Fall of the House of Usher, Mike Flanagan, 2023 Poe relied primarily on brief stories, in which the greatest horror happens in the heads of the characters. They faced remorse, mental illness, and perceptual limitations. All these mental obstacles were presented in the form of beautiful sentences and engaging moral dilemmas. While reading, we could understand the thoughts and emotions of a particular character, their mental state created discomfort, and the reader quickly felt overwhelmed by the descriptions of locations and events. In the series, as I mentioned, the characters' problems are encapsulated in two sentences, one about character traits and the other about some kind of complex. Sometimes, Flanagan is able to visually show that a given child feels unappreciated or unloved by his father, but these aren't dark, introspective, nuanced dwellings on the level of The Pit and the Pendulum, where the main protagonist constantly tries to explain how he feels chained in a dark, claustrophobic cell. Flanagan's The Fall of the House of Usher only skims the surface of human thoughts and problems, while Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher is a constellation of feelings, impulses, motives, and reflections. And the fact is that Flanagan resorts to the didacticism that Poe despised. Never againTelevision loses in a direct clash with literature – the adaptation isn't only loose, but also quite unsuccessful. Worse, The Fall of the House Usher also has trouble capturing the viewer's attention as a standalone piece. It tempts with an original idea, only to quickly become bored with the repetitiveness and sterility of the structure and script. However, it's enough of a "series" experience that it should be at the top of Netflix's weekly hit lists for the next few weeks. However, The Fall of the House of Usher showed me that modern narratives are becoming more limited, and today's creators don't fully understand the phenomenon and complexity of the masterpieces of the past centuries. Although there are plenty of references to Poe in the series, the most important and most difficult-to-grasp element was missing – the essence of the above-mentioned writer, a deep and unceremonious delving into the human soul and psyche. Flanagan wasn't even close. OUR SCORE: 5,5/10 RELATED TOPICS: reviews (movies and TV series) Netflix drama (movies) horror crime story originals movie articles Karol Laska Karol Laska His adventure with journalism began with a personal blog, the name of which is no longer worth quoting. Then he interpreted Iranian dramas and the Joker, writing for cinematography journal, which, sadly, no longer exists. His writing credentials include a degree in film studies, but his thesis was strictly devoted to video games. He has been writing for Gamepressure since March 2020, first writing a lot about movies, then in the newsroom, and eventually, he became a specialist in everything. He currently edits and writes articles and features. A long-time enthusiast of the most bizarre indie games and arthouse cinema. He idolizes surrealism and postmodernism. He appreciates the power of absurdity. Which is probably why he also tried soccer refereeing for 2 years (with so-so results). He tends to over-philosophize, so watch out. I Miss Thrillers Like The Hunt for Red October. It’s a Classic for a Good Reason I Miss Thrillers Like The Hunt for Red October. It’s a Classic for a Good Reason Obliterated is Netflix's crazy new series, regarding which viewers and critics on Rotten Tomatoes disagree Obliterated is Netflix's crazy new series, regarding which viewers and critics on Rotten Tomatoes disagree Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a Startling Story of Human Nature Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a Startling Story of Human Nature What is the origin of The Walking Dead virus? What is the origin of The Walking Dead virus? 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