DVD Review: The House of Usher
By Jeff Swindoll Sep 20, 2007, 14:36 GMT
Three years after her lover, Rick Usher, and her best friend, Maddy Usher, had suddenly disappeared from her life without explanation ...more
In this modern remake of Poe’s short story finds Rick Usher with a slightly different motivation than his literary counter part. I was expecting the worst but found it an interesting interpretation, but by no means a classic.
Jill Michaelson (Izabella Miko) has just found out that her school friend Madeline “Maddy” Usher (Danielle McCarthy) has died. She goes to the foreboding Usher House to attend the funeral. She reconnects with Maddy’s brother Roderick “Rick” Usher (Austin Nichols) who she used to date in school.
The Ushers disappeared from Jill’s life and only left a cryptic telegram stating that they’d never see each other again. Rick has a hereditary disease and gets injections from his sinister housekeeper Mrs. Thatcher (Beth Grant, doing her best Mrs. Danvers impersonation) and is placed in a sensory isolation tank in the basement.
Soon Jill and Rick are reconnecting, but Jill keeps seeing a mysterious figure on the grounds. I think you know that a fall is coming.
I have to give director Hayley Cloake some points in that she resisted calling the main character Rod Usher. When I first saw the press release, I’ll admit that my threshold of hope was extremely low – recalling back to Harry Alan Towers’ redo with Oliver Reed pulling Usher duty. The film is not as atrocious as that version.
The thought that the film “updated” Poe to modern times was the first thing that raised my antennae, but technically I thought that the setting worked for the most part. I do think that you still have to put Poe out of your head a little and just focus on being entertained by the story.
Poe devotees will still cringe at the update. I guess the place where the show let down a little was the performance of Austin Nichols as Rick. I thought Roderick should’ve been more compelling than Nichols plays him. I found him rather low key, perhaps a little too low. Izabella Miko is okay as Jill, but she did get a little annoying when she has to get weepy at the end.
Danielle McCarthy just has to stand around and stare for the most part. Mrs. Thatcher is a creation of the film, but it’s pretty obvious that somebody was watching Rebecca (1940).
The implied incest of Poe’s tale is brought to the forefront in this interpretation and Rick’s motivation is to keep the Usher line going whereas in the story I thought Roderick wanted it to end.
House of Usher is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a commentary by directory Hayley Cloake, 4 minutes of deleted scenes, and the 2-minute trailer. Finally there are trailers for other ThinkFilm releases.
Although it wasn’t as bad as I first thought, I think that Poe devotees will not enjoy this version. If you try and put Poe out of your heard then you might find a thing or two to like in this interpretation.