Mike Flanagan makes us grapple with multiple truths to finally drive home a simple message

Nonika Singh

Mystery of mysteries… Surrealism has been used as cinematic device to draw attention to a hard-hitting subject. However, rarely does it make such an impact as in The Fall of the House of Usher. Like the series Painkiller, it takes a look into the murky world of drug companies. The Usher family, owner of pharmaceutical company, is facing a trial for its highly addictive drug.

But this is no courtroom drama or a police procedural. In this reimagining of the short story of the same name and other works by Edgar Allan Poe, Mike Flanagan creates a contemporary riveting drama. The series unfolds like a thriller, flirting with horror if you will. It begins with the death of young members of the Usher family and a confession by its head, Roderick Usher (Bruce Greenwood)

As the eight-episode drama streaming on Netflix goes back and forth, we are led into a compelling maze. One by one we become privy to the life and death of Roderick’s children, both legitimate and illegitimate. There is Prospero (Sauriyan Sapkota), who wants to set up a sex bar, Leo (Rahul Kohli), a video game publisher and a drug addict. Kate Siegel as Camille is the public relations head, T’Nia Miller as Victorine LaFourcade is in charge of clinical trials. Samantha Sloyan as Tamerlane is creating a high-end wellness brand. Most of them have twisted lives. Amoral and consumed by ambition…one after another they die. Their deaths apparently are accidental yet there is a pattern to it, probably connected to Roderick and his sister Madeline’s (Mary McDonnell) past. How the brother-sister duo rise to head the company their father once owned, while disowning his offspring born out of wedlock, too is shrouded in mystery. Much here is mysterious, often bordering on macabre. As Roderick lets Dupin (Carl Lumbly) into his inner world, the sense of disquiet heightens. Phantasmagorical elements jostle with the harsh reality of pharma secrets. Skeletons tumble one after another.

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