DIRECTOR: Oz Perkins
WRITER: Oz Perkins
Lily is a young nurse who is sent to take care of an elderly woman in her massive old house. The woman is named Iris Blum, a once famous author who is now confined to her home. As Lily begins to work for Iris, she also starts to read her bibliography. Lily not being a fan of the horror genre, she soon realises that Iris's books and home may have more in common as spooky things begin to happen around the house.
Just days after watching the original Netflix home invasion thriller Mercy. I've gone and discovered another horror movie in their catalogue called I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. It appears that Netflix has a thing for producing extremely slow burn and sombre horror movies. Like Mercy, this movie felt very gloomy in tone and substance. I believe that this movie may be the most low-key ghost story that I think I may have ever witnessed myself.
To start the review off with a fun bit of trivia. The movie is written and directed by Osgood 'Oz' Perkins. He is the son of Anthony Perkins. You know, the man who was Norman Bates in the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece Psycho. I found this to be a rather fascinating little bit of trivia after watching it. Even if I didn't outright love this film. I think Anthony Perkins would be so proud of Osgood in crafting this dark and sombre little ghost story.
I'm going to start with the elements that I enjoyed about I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. As I sat and watched this movie for an hour and twenty minutes. I discovered that the film almost felt like poetry in motion. The movie sees our main protagonist deliver these beautifully haunting monologues throughout the story. The film felt like it transcended the cinematic realm and I felt like I was sitting in a library listening to an author reading a passage from their novel.
The monologues were my favourite aspect of the story. I was in complete awe of how beautiful these moments were in the movie. I've seen a lot of reviews state that the monologues are pretentious and are only there to add some kind of indie or arthouse vibe to the story but I don't care what other people say about it. I found them all to be slightly melancholic and tragic in a way. They really do add something different to this somewhat slowish ghost story.
When it comes to the overall feeling and vibe of the film. The movie has this sense of dread that runs throughout the entire story. The movie is incredibly slow burn, and it has maybe one standout jump scare in the whole hour and twenty minutes, but from the very first moments of the story, you get this sense that things are not right in this house. While not being flat-out scary, the movie has this mood that had me unnerved for most of it.
The movies biggest problem for me was the pacing of the film. This is the slowest film that I remember seeing in recent memory. At times, this is a slog to get through. The story isn't exactly an ambitious one, so I felt more often than not that this was a trial to get through. The story is a lot smarter than a lot of supernatural movies, so it has that almost cerebral element to it. The film almost feels like a period piece in the way its shot. The pacing really does kill any of the movie's momentum.
The acting in I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is good for the most part. The film has Ruth Wilson in a central leading performance, and she carries the entire movie with ease. I've never seen her on the television show The Affair, so she was never on my radar, but after seeing this movie and her performance, I may have to start going back through her filmography as she is a pretty talented actress and has a wonderful presence on screen.
Lastly, I think the film on a visual level is worth noting. A lot of supernatural movies have these ghosts as monsters and evil entities that are trying to kill our characters. The spectre of the story is what I would perceive to be an almost tangible spirit. This feels like what you hear people describe who have encountered spirits. The ghost isn't one that is vengeful or evil but simply lost and confined to where they were or have been murdered. I felt the way they handled the effects were well done.
DEATH TOLL: 3
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone dies of fright.
- A woman notices her arms are rotting.
- A woman cuts her finger.
- A woman cops a hammer to the head.
- Blood stained walls.
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is a poetic and arthouse ghost story. Instead of going for blood and gore, this movie tries for mood and feeling. The film is dark and unnerving for the most part. A solid central performance from Ruth Wilson also takes the movie above average. The most significant issue that the film faces is that its very, very slow. The pace of the story at times almost makes the film feel like a chore. Still, I think this is a movie that's worth a watch.