Oz Perkins has four features to his name so far, this his second effort after the generally well received The Blackcoat’s Daughter. While I appreciated the atmosphere and look and idea of that film, I felt that it lacks scares, direction, and it failed to have the impact on me that it did on others. In I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, I can essentially copy and paste those exact comments and be done with the review. I write more than is necessary though, so here we go.
The film has something of a dual narrative, but mostly follows the experiences of a live-in nurse who stays in a grand old house to attend to the palliative care of an elderly horror writer suffering from dementia. The nurse, Lily, is an odd one; prone to flights of fancy, talking to herself, and with an aversion to anything spooky. In haunted house fashion, strange things start happening. In horror movie fashion, the protagonist does nothing about it.
Meanwhile we learn that Iris, the writer, wrote a story about a man who murders his wife and buries her in the walls of the house. So far, so Poe. Iris refers to Lily by the name of the murdered wife, Lily begins to notice mould on one of the walls of the house, and… well, you see where this is going.
I’ve no idea if the movie was supposed to be so telegraphed or if the ending was intended to be a surprise. In any case, none of what happens is a surprise, even as details are drip-fed and we crawl backwards at the inevitable conclusion. I didn’t have issues with the glacial pace, but the lack of scares, of tension, and the abundance of emptiness suggests that the film would have been much more suited to being part of an anthology or a TV episode rather than a feature. It’s a story which will be familiar to every horror fan, and if it’s horror fans that the movie is targeted at then the lack of scares and pacing will likely frustrate.
As interesting as it was to see Paula Prentiss back on screen, Ruth Wilson is horribly miscast, the incessant mumbling and whispering becomes irritating very quickly, and by the time the 30 minute mark ticks around and you’ve worked out both the tricks and the conclusion of the story, you’ll spend the remaining time clock-watching. The initial gloss and beauty of the film is rotted by the director’s pretensions, the atmosphere set up for a tension between threat and loss acquiesces into monotony, and the early promise of an interesting setting and hope for a modern take on an old-fashioned ghost story fades as quickly as my interest in whatever Perkins does next.
Let us know in the comments what you think of I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.
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