Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fall of the House of Usher (2007) (movie #70)

I've wanted to see this movie ever since it debuted, and I was excited to watch it. I have to say that, because I feel bad railing against these little low-budget movies the way I have been. I've found some of my favorite movies of all time by giving indie and low-budget movies a chance, but during this challenge, it seems like I haven't seen many low-budget movies that were worth my time, and that irritates me, because I know those movies are out there, the little low-budget gems that make my day and renew my faith in filmmaking. I love watching re-imaginings of Edgar Allen Poe's classic stories, so I was very eager to see this movie. I didn't come into it expecting to hate it like a lot of reviewers did, I think, so that makes the results that much more disappointing for me.

I didn't hate the movie, but it confused the hell out of me. I actually had to track down some other people and discuss it with them in order to really understand what was going on in the movie. After these discussions, I kind of liked the movie better, but I don't think that's an excuse for the filmmakers to get lazy and make their movie all dreamlike and confusing. Seriously, there were a few times throughout the movie where I suspected that I had fallen asleep and was dreaming the events onscreen, because they didn't make any sense to me and they floated ion the screen like images from a boring dream. The plot of the movie isn'[t bad, though, it's really the execution that makes this movie so annoying. Jill (the lead character) has been friends with Madeline and her brother Roderick for years. Madeline and Roderick are twins and they are from a creepy old family with a mansion (the titular House of Usher). After Madeline and her brother mysteriously disappear from Jill's life, she receives notice that Madeline has died and wanted Jill to attend her funeral. Jill goes to stay in the House of Usher and rekindles her romance with Roderick, who suffers from some kind of mysterious degenerative disease (the same one that killed Madeline). Strange things start happening, Jill starts seeing Maddy's ghost, and she soon discovers the secret of the Usher family curse.

What exactly is that secret? Well, that's the confusing part. No one seems to be able to agree on exactly what is going on, but after discussing it, I've developed my take on what happened in the LSD-induced ending, so here it is:


Jill learns that she is pregnant by Roderick, and then in one scene she runs around looking at all the family portraits and lining them up on the floor, saying "it's all one line!" This confused me. I think she was discovering that the twin children (always a boy and a girl) in the photograph had been reincarnated throughout the generations. She later learns that Maddy had become pregnant with Roderick's twins but that she killed herself in order to end the curse. the curse seems to be that the twins will always die early of a degenerative disease, which is to be expected if you inbreed like that for hundreds of years I guess. I think that the spirit of the original twins kept being reincarnated over and over again, but that Madeline didn't want to continue the curse, so when she became pregnant with Roderick's babies, she did a self-abortion (this isn't made explicitly clear in the movie, so this is just my interpretation). The disease that Madeline and Roderick have makes them appear to be dead when they aren't, so I think Roderick just pretended that Madeline was dead in order to lure Jill to the house and make her his baby momma. In the end, Madeline helps Jill escape and helps drown Roderick, but she dies too, embracing him. Jill then learns that she is pregnant with twins, and we see the twins embracing on the ultrasound. I think Madeline just realized that5 she couldn't keep the line going because the twins would die, so she allowed Jill to be lured to the house so Jill could become pregnant and then Madeline and Roderick died because they knew that they would be reincarnated in Jill's twins.

This is all just my take on the movie. I think it can probably be taken in a few different ways. I think the movie would be stronger without all the dreamlike imagery and the annoying jump cuts and such. The core of the movie isn't bad, I just with the filmmakers hadn't gotten so lazy (or dropped so much acid while making the movie).

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