House of Usher, The (DVD)
Directed by Hayley Cloake
Distributed by ThinkFilm
"Three years after her lover, Rick Usher, and her best friend, Maddy Usher, had suddenly disappeared from her life without explanation, Jill Masters receives a phone call with news of Maddy's death. Her last wish was for Jill to attend her funeral. Conflicted, Jill returns to the house of Usher, a remote New England enclave. Her love affair with Rick is rekindled as she learns he suffers from the same malady that robbed his twin sister, Maddy, of her sharp mind before taking her life. His affliction is manifested in a rare nerve condition, which renders him hyper-sensitive. Under the watchful eye of the caretaker, Nurse Thatcher, Jill appears to be haunted by the ghost of Maddy, and the secret of the house of Usher is exposed."
How hard is it to make a decent film based off of Edgar Allan Poe's work? Ulli Lommel screwed it up and so have many others. Sadly, this newest incarnation of Usher met the same fate. As you can tell by the description above, the plot of The Fall of the House of Usher has been torn apart just to make room for hot young actors/actresses and a whole lot of annoyingly forced mood.
In the original works of Poe, the story of Usher was very intense. It didn't worry about appealing to the emo MySpacers or the snooty indie crowd. It was just a creepy little story about a three people, a house that may be alive and possibly some incest. Two of those things exist in this latest version put to film, but not in a good way.
The House of Usher introduces us to several characters who perform all the basic horror movie cliches to a "T." We've got the kindly grounds keeper who tries to help but can't. There's the creepy old woman that spends the whole movie being a total bitch until the last 3 minutes of her screen time. Usher is just some WB leftover who spends most of his camera time boring us with overly obvious plot points.
Then we have Jill ... the stupidest heroine in the history of the horror genre. You're at your ex-boyfriends creepy house, you think you see his dead sister and everyone is being uber mysterious. It is time to leave. This is not the time or place to have sex with a man who clearly states he has a horrible disease. It is also not the time to have UNPROTECTED SEX with a man who clearly states he has a horrible disease.
It would be sort of easy to accept her insane lack of logic, but that was until we hear her proclaim she is pregnant after missing her period by one day. Did you miss all the clues that he was trying to get you knocked up because his family was a long line of inbreeding twins? Oh, that was just us who knew that little fact thanks the the film's opening that gives away the big twist. Suspense and tension just don't exist.
What also doesn't make itself present in this flick is atmosphere. This probably came about due to the secrets being revealed so early on. Even those who have not read Poe's short story can quickly guess at what is going on. There's just nothing subtle about this. The same goes for the way Usher looks.
Usher is another one of those pics that just has to be as grey and boring as possible. It is hard to catch the viewer's eye when each scene is framed, shot and colored just to put them to sleep faster than a whole bottle of Nyquil. To make up for this, director Hayley Cloake made sure that the character of Jill was running around as close to naked as possible ... in a house that had to be very very cold. Sure, makes sense. Run around in your undies with just a loose top on inside a strange house. I do it all the time.
By now it is clear that there's no reason to pick up this DVD. No tits, no horror, no thrill, but plenty of yawns. However, there are those out there that like to torture themselves and for those few we will look at what special features were sunk into this disc. First, there are the deleted scenes. Oh joy! We can extend the agony a little longer!
The scenes are not labeled and no commentary exists to explain why these were cut. Thanks for helping us out! The total runtime of all the cut footage put together comes to about 4 minutes, and none of it aids the viewer in learning more about the film. Most likely that's the reason why this stuff was left out, but there's always hope.
The only other special feature that remains is the commentary track with director Hayley Cloake. I will admit that she is very informative and quite lovely to listen to, but that won't make the task of sitting though this thing any easier. In case you missed all the obvious plot points, Hayley will point them out for you. Oh, thank you!
What a wasted effort. This new adaption of Poe's work is nothing more than a bore that has to play the rape card (more implied than said, but you get my drift) and a lot of cock teasing instead of telling us a story we should care about. Updating isn't the problem here, but the characters are mostly wooden and it all ends with a "WTF?" Skip this one and just get the older/better Vincent Price version.
2 out of 5
2 out 5
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