MAY 15, 2008
The Vincent Price version of Poe’s "Usher" story was pretty good, and for the most part escaped its short story trappings – it didn’t FEEL like a stretched out tale. I cannot say the same for The House Of Usher, which is so dull and repetitious that I don’t even think it would work as a half hour Tales From The Crypt episode.
Nearly 80% of the film is this: Boring Austin Nichols is writing. The occasionally American, usually Polish-accented Izabella Miko walks in and touches his arm or something. They have the following conversation:
Miko: “How’s it going?”
Nichols: “OK. Now that you’re here.”
Miko: “I have to go back soon.”
Nichols: “No. Stay. I need you here.”
Miko: “But what about my life?”
Nichols: “You can make a life here.”
Miko (looks out window): “I miss her so much.”
Nichols: “Me too.”
(Beth Grant watches disapprovingly from the doorway, then walks away).
Now this isn’t an exact transcript, but a general idea of what you will see over and over and over during the film’s (still too long) 80 minute running time. The other two scenes are Miko and Grant being cold to one another, and occasionally Miko seeing her friend who should be dead. Finally, with 15 minutes to go, the movie remembers to, you know, DO something, as Nichols begins running around trying to kill Miko, and the dead sister comes back to help... it’s still pretty boring, but the music and more frenetic camerawork makes you think otherwise.
Speaking of the camerawork – it’s really awkward. The cutting and blocking is very jarring at times, particularly in the first 20 minutes or so. It’s probably supposed to make you feel uneasy, but since there’s nothing in the film that is holding your interest, it just annoys.
That said, otherwise it’s at least a well made film – rainy Massachusetts is captured well, and the scope aspect ratio is surprisingly fitting, despite the fact that the entire film takes place in a house. And the attempts to modernize Poe’s tale are somewhat admirable; it doesn’t feel anachronistic at any rate.
I was surprised at how bad Beth Grant was in the film, too. She’s usually pretty entertaining (either as a villain or someone you’re supposed to like), but she’s incredibly stiff here. Miko’s uneven accent is too distracting to determine whether she can act or not, and Austin Nichols is as dull as they come. Look, if you want a guy with that “look” for your film, may I suggest Aaron Douglas, who plays Chief Tyrol on Battlestar. That guy is gold.
There’s a commentary, but I can’t imagine sitting through the film again to listen to it. Maybe though; as I write this, I’m not feeling well, so maybe I’ll put it on to put me to sleep.
What say you?