The Good: Some of the direction is visually interesting
The Bad: No character development, Poor performances, Boring tone (not creepy), Pacing, Lack of plot
The Basics: I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is flat-out boring and a dismal failure for Netflix; don't waste your time this Halloween on it!
Happy Halloween! This year, I decided to spend part of my Halloween taking in a horror film for a change and I thought it was another chance to check out the Netflix Original films as they released a horror offering just a couple of days ago. The name of the film is I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House and it is a very typical horror piece in terms of mood and direction. Or it would be if it were scary instead of a constant bore.
The premise of I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is that a house where someone has died may not be bought or sold by the living; it may only be borrowed from the ghosts that still remain in the house. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is a slow mood piece that does not quite get to the ninety minute mark and the creep out factor of the film comes as the viewer waits for something to happen. And then, as long stretches pass between the appearances of the ghost in the house and the inevitable horror film reversal, the viewer waits, bored. Lily turns on a television and there is static that she watches for almost a minute and she peers in the reflection of the television . . . and the viewer waits for something to actually happen. Were it not for the music telegraphing the emotions and the voiceovers building a mystery, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House would be a straightforward dull film instead of an even remotely creepy flick.
Lily Singer arrives at the house at the end of Teacup Road in Braintree, Massachusetts, a hospice nurse in her late twenties who is sent to care for author Iris Blum in her last days. Iris Blum is a horror author who appears to have lost her mind, as she asks Lily about Polly, a woman who does not appear to exist. Lily sits and talks on the phone and the phone it torn out of her hand; she turns around to find Iris wandering out of her bed and there is a strange mold growing in the wall. Lily is visited by Mr. Waxcap, Iris's lawyer who is looking to keep expenses on the estate down and who denies that there is a real Polly, only that Polly is a character from Iris's most famous book.
One day after Mr. Waxcap visits, Lily steels herself to actually read Iris's famous novel, which is about a house that is haunted by the ghost of Polly. Beginning to read The Lady In The Wall leads Lily to begin hallucinating and freaking out in the creepy, old house.
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is a dull ghost story that leads the viewer to believe that Polly is the ghost in the house that Iris lives in and then is constructed around revealing that. The cast of the film is exceptionally small and the bulk of the performance burden comes on Bob Balaban to deliver the most dialogue within the film. Balaban's character is a medium by which exposition is given and the impetus for Lily to actually begin reading Iris's book.
Ruth Wilson plays Lily and the bulk of her performance in I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House involves her staring blankly and walking around with her mouth partially open. Wilson might be a fine actress, but I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is not her magnum opus. Instead, Lily could be played by a lobotomized actress, so long as someone else provided the voiceovers that Lily gives. Wilson basically wanders around with a glazed look for the bulk of the film, reacting occasionally, and staring vacantly most of the rest of the time.
On the subject of the voiceovers, director Oz Perkins delivers a problematic film using the voiceovers in I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. Ruth Wilson and Erin Boyes (the young Iris Blum, presuming she did the voiceovers for her sections where she is on screen) perform their voiceovers in virtually identical soft, hushed tones with nearly identical cadences. As a result, the viewer comes to believe very early on that there is more of a relationship between Iris and Lily, especially given that Iris calls Lily "Polly." The similarities in voice and speaking styles makes I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House very jumbled for telling a story that is focused or coherent.
Ultimately, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House could be a screensaver if one turned off the sound; it is that slow and unsatisfying, though it looks all right. For anyone who bothers with the film - which I do not recommend given that it is vastly more boring than it is ever scary or even creepy - it is highly recommended that one watch it in complete darkness as the film is very dark and the slightest glare will obscure some of the details Perkins puts in the shots.
But what artistry there is in I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House does not justify the experience of sitting through this insufferably boring movie.
For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
The Fundamentals Of Caring
The Ridiculous 6
For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.