THE HOUSE OF USHER
Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a young woman is told of an old friends funeral, she finds herself going back to a man that left without warning years before. Once there, she finds that the man she once loved is sick and may have secrets that she shouldn’t know.
Is it good movie?
Edgar Allan Poe was a master at psychological terror. His short stories about murder and mayhem have lived on and will continue to thrive especially if filmmakers keep reading them. Thus Hayley Cloake offers up a sort of Cruel Intentions re-working of Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher. When Jill Michaelson (Izabella Miko) is called to attend her old friends funeral, she arrives and faces her past love. Rick Usher (Austin Nichols who played John from John in Cincinnati) welcomes her as he mourns for his twin sister Maddy. Jill is at first angry, since her old flame left without a trace, along with his sister. But soon, she finds herself falling for John once again. But the Usher house has it’s secrets, with a nasty old caretaker (Beth Grant) who warns Jill that she doesn’t belong there. Secrets are revealed as Jill finds that Rick is a sick man with a rare disease and he begs his lost love to stay. Meanwhile, Jill keeps having quick glimpses of a woman who looks a whole lot like Maddy.
Ms. Cloake serves up a pretty appetizing dish with this Usher. The two leads are both attractive and at various stages of undress, Izabella looks quite attractive in a white teddy and undies. Speaking of pretty, the house and the grounds are a terrific location and used very well. I also found the beginning to be pretty involving as we witness moments that are about to unfold, but make little sense. Some nice editing going on as the plot unfolds. Yet, I was only mildly intrigued by the film. Both Miko and Nichols are fine, but they seem much to young to have the depth that they should have. I mentioned Cruel Intentions because this did feel almost like the teen version of the Poe classic, as Intentions was a teen Dangerous Liasons. This is not necessarily a bad thing, yet oftentimes the dialogue seemed rather silly out of the mouths of babes. Luckily, they are pretty so it makes it a watchable bit of silliness. I did however enjoy Beth Grant and her creepy caretaker. She relishes her role and seems to get the camp factor. Especially in one scene where she is giving Rick his medicine… a half-naked sweaty dude and an old broad who is having some serious mother/lover issues.
Video / Audio
Video: The 16x9 Widescreen transfer is good, yet a few times some of the quality of the film is a bit grainy.
< b>Audio: The Dolby Digital is also good yet it also sometimes lets the budget be heard. Still, not a bad looking or sounding DVD.
The extras seem to be a bit pale, with only the Commentary from director Hayley Cloake being of interest. I liked her knowledge of the story and her reasons for casting and location. She brings a sense of professionalism to the film as she seems very knowledgeable. I also liked her description of the surprisingly strong score by Rev, she calls it the “creepy carousel soundtrack”. Good stuff.
As for the rest of the disc, we get a few Deleted Scenes (4:23) that actually should have probably been kept in considering the films 81 minute length. And we also have Trailers for, of course, “The House of Usher”, and also, “The Killing Floor”, “Deceit”, “Gag”, “The Insatiable”, “Bloodlines”, and the fantastic documentary “Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film”.
Although not a perfect film Hayley Cloake shows promise by taking a youth obsessed look at the Poe classic “The Fall of the House of Usher”. Both Austin Nichols and Izabella Miko do some satisfactory work, the script didn’t seem to fit them. They felt much to young for the roles and the film might have benefited from a stronger leading twosome. But Beth Grant mixes in a sense of creep factor and sadness as the Usher house caretaker. The darkest moments of the film usually involve her and she has fun with the role. Yet, The House of Usher is a very stylish looking film with a nice score and good editing, and it is aptly directed by Ms. Cloake.