Review by Camden Ferrell
From the Oscar-nominated directing duo of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini comes a new horror film, Things Heard & Seen. This movie is based on the book All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. The movie may have a great leading performance and eerie ambiance, but its sluggish pace can make for a very tedious two hours.
Catherine is an artist who moves to a small town when her husband, George, gets a new job as a professor. Soon, she realizes their new home and their marriage may not be what they appear to be. The setup is fairly mundane as far as horror movies go, but it does have promise to be ominous and intense.
Written by Springer Berman and Pulcini, this movie lacks compelling dialogue to supplement its narrative. It is full of lifeless dialogue more times than not, and it doesn’t follow up on any interesting themes or dynamics when they are introduced. It’s not bad, but it fails to breathe life into the story and the setting.
The most commendable aspect of this film is the lead performance from Oscar-nominee Amanda Seyfried. She does a great job of portraying paranoia and passion throughout, and she shines consistently in the film and the genre as well. She is supported by a cast including James Norton, Natalia Dyer, and F. Murray Abraham. The supporting cast does adequately in their respective performances, but pale in comparison to Seyfried’s performance.
The movie seems to draw a lot of comparisons to two of Seyfried’s previous films, First Reformed and You Should Have Left. Her newest movie lacks the religious fervor and character development of the former, and it succumbs to some of the tired horror tropes of the latter. It treads the water in terms of its religious and thematic subtext, and it doesn’t dive deeper into the messages and symbolism at the heart of its story.
However, the ambiance is decent throughout. The lighting, cinematography, and score do a fairly decent job at creating an ominous and eerie environment. Unfortunately, some moments of horror and suspense don’t always land the mark, and this can pull you out of the experience. The movie doesn’t pack nearly enough thrills to keep an audience thoroughly invested in their lives and the ongoings of their new house.
The biggest problem with this movie comes from its slow pace. It meanders throughout until it reaches a climax that is admittedly very well done. However, the movie’s lethargy undermines the impact of its final shocking moments, and it will leave viewers feeling underwhelmed more than anything.
Things Heard & Seen has all the makings of a great horror movie, but we are instead given a passable movie with some very noticeable flaws. Seyfried does a great job wit her role, and it is very atmospheric as a whole, but the movie doesn’t always exceed at eliciting thrills.
Things Heard & Seen will be available on Netflix April 29.