- Published on Amazon.com
Edgar Allan Poe's own "Fall of the House of Usher" is classy 19th century gothic horror fiction. Updated and modernised, it does not really make quite the same impact. Hayley Cloake's film based loosely on the story is, well, downright cheesy, cheaply produced and lacking in finesse. Sexualising the tale, I suppose, could make some sense, but just how "Jill", the female visitor at the manor in this version, comes to perpetuate, in whatever way, the movie's incestuous Usher family line is not very clear. After all, she is not related to the incestuously inclined Usher family present-day and ancestral. On seeing Maddy (i.e., Madeline Usher), Rick Usher's supposedly dead and buried sister, at last, Maddy is all bloody at the groin, making one wonder if Maddy's twin children somehow have been excised from her womb, thanks to the wonders of sci-fi modern medicine, to be placed, again somehow, alive in Jill's uterus, unbeknownst to the recipient, but this is no more than guessing on my part. (If that had been the case, however, one would have to wonder why there is no evidence of it on Jill's person; she only feels the discomfort of early pregnancy.) Well, there are references to a "surrogate" (who else but Jill?) in the novel which Rick, a writer of pop mass-marketed fiction, is portrayed as writing, obviously based on what is happening at the House of Usher, so at least this seems to me to be a reasonable surmise. (Maybe something like Voodoo is the mechanism through which this could have been accomplished, if the twin babies' parentage really has to be Maddy as well as Rick; somehow, though, I sense that my supposition is falling apart!) A film so sexually explicit as this one should have made that more clear.
There are some rather very low-tech sci-fi touches, especially that eerie tank in which Rick, Jill, and Maddy all immerse themselves, at various points in the movie, into its putatively healing and revivifying waters. The tank is illumined, but that is about all that Cloake and his crew did to make it look spooky. The same goes for all of the movie's effects, under-impressing the viewer, because they are done "on the cheap". The male lead, "Rick", is a pleasantly (but too blandly) good-looking and reasonably well-built lad, as one can see when he gets out of (or is taken out of) his rather foppish clothing, but he does not have the hulking and haunted look that should come naturally to actors who set out to portray Poe's Roderick.
The movie does not have a continuous feel to it. It just seems to be stuck together, moment-by-moment, scene by scene, with too little flow or tension in transitions. The background sounds, both music and effects, seems to be computer-generated and no more than minimally convincing sonically.
"Take a pass" on this one; I bought it at a pawn shop for very little and I would not advise spending any more than I did ($1.50 Can. for the used copy, if I recall aright) to have it, if one really desires to satisfy one's curiosity about it. Maybe that money, if one is seeks Poe-based "camp", is better used towards buying David deCoteau's even cheesier, but entertaining, all-male (fetchingly well cast for laddish "eye-candy") gay "take" on Poe in that notorious director's film equally or even, obviously, more loosely based retelling of the fate of Poe's doomed Usher family.