Things Heard and Seen (2021)
Director: Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini
Writer: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini & Elizabeth Brundage
Actors: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Ana Sophia Heger,
Genre: Horror & Thriller
This classic telling of a ghost story brings the Claire families secrets to the foreground. What starts as a city family moving to a small town in upstate New York, switches and shifts like a rubix cube. Bringing all their problems, lies and infidelities into alignment. Things Heard and Seen comes from the book called ‘All Things Cease to Appear’, written by Elizabeth Brundage.
Catherine Claire (Seyfried) and George Claire (Norton) move to the small town, when George gets a job at the local college where he teaches art. Catherine, giving up her job as an art restorer, becoming a full-time mother of their child Franny (Heger). When the house they live in seems to have mysteries of its own, Catherine starts to uncover things a lot closer to home.
The visual style of this film is warm and inviting which is gradually in opposition with the narrative of the film. The colours are blues, teals and oranges which remind me of autumn, and is interesting as it spans from spring to winter. It gave the atmosphere of cuddling up with a blanket on the couch and reading your favourite ghost story as the wind howls outside. Accompanying the atmosphere, the themes throughout the film heavy and very unique to each character.
Catherine suffers from an eating disorder which the story doesn’t reveal the origins of. I can only assume this is elaborate in the book. She had a creative career, a family and close friend. When she moves to the small town, she is left on her own and starts to hear and see things in the house. While she takes this very well, as they mention a few times Catherine is open-minded to the supernatural, she slowly drifts away from George.
George is an uneasy, suspicious character and his obliviousness to his actions are creepy. For most of the film they are on two different roads. Catherine wants to investigate the house and its previous owners while George is off charming the locals. The dynamic between the two is off from the beginning and continues to worsen as the film goes on.
The appeal of the classic ghost tale is the lack of exaggeration and special effects used to show the supernatural that are usually harassing the occupants of the house. Other classic ghost stories would be Haunting of Hill House and the second series on Bly Manor. They are mostly atmospheric with deep psychological themes that are promoted by the paranormal occurrences within the story. Atmosphere can be difficult to achieve but it is done really well, mostly because of their careers and commonality as artists. This is shown in the opening scene with the paintings on the projector.
There is a scene at the end of the film which is difficult to talk about without spoiling the film. But it reminded me of the film The Ninth Gate. It was surreal and gave the air of classic poetry, literature and religion. As I said previously, these themes are prominent and are well wrapped up in this final scene. Other film this reminded me of was What Lies Beneath. A great film about a woman that is left on her own as her husband becomes more and more suspicious.
In conclusion, this was another great Netflix film made from a book. It is always curious to know which is better, but my emphasis is always on how they can accomplish the film visually and in less time. The acting was amazing across the board and had some brilliant casting. It is quite fast paced in the beginning and slowly tappers as the climax approaches, and the twists were genuinely surprising. The visuals gave off a warm, historic feel that felt like a retelling. A ghost story you would hear in the pub, known by all the locals.
Production Designer: Lester Cohen
Cinematographer: Larry Smith
Music: Peter Raeburn
Production Company: Likely Story
Themes: mental health, supernatural, domestic violence, moving to the country, locals,
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Poster images were found through: www.impawards.com
All opinions are my own and factual information is found through IMDB or Wikipedia.