THINGS HEARD & SEEN (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: A Manhattan couple moves to a historic hamlet in the Hudson Valley and come to discover that their marriage has a sinister darkness, one that rivals their new home’s history. Based on the acclaimed novel by Elizabeth Brundage.
Maybe it’s best to check with the locals or the local library first if you plan to buy a huge real estate in the middle of nowhere. As seen in many other haunted house horrors, the buyers never seem bother to do any homework before they realized that they are other entities staying in their seemingly perfect new home.
The same goes to the Claires. Together with their young daughter, George (James Norton) and Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) relocate from New York city to upstate after George lands a teaching post in a small college. Catherine meanwhile is suffering from bulimia, depressed from losing her social circle and beloved career in painting while the charming, handsome George has the tendency to go around for some cheap flings. In short, the marriage of the seemingly happy couple is on the rocks.
To add on to Catherine’s woes, the lights flicker a lot in the house, furniture moved on its own, mysterious objects liked a ring are found by Catherine. Oil fumes also emanate from their garage and a strange presence lurks in the shadows. George’s department head, Floyd (F. Murray Abraham) even offer to host a séance to help Catherine which serves as the movie’s sole highlight.
Things Heard & Seen has the right mix of a generic horror thriller but the story choses to go further than that by including Christian themes, creepy paintings and one messy historical happening. Most of the promised themes unfortunately went nowhere after two long hours. The movie is more of a marriage story with a ghostly twist than a full-blown horror fest.
The story spent it’s time mostly on George flirting with a young lady she met at the library (a thankless role played by Natalie Dyer from Stranger Things) or Catherine gazing at the well-built young man, Eddy who offers to help around the house. Without the awkward inclusion of loud noises and jump scares, you would not have thought this is a horror thriller to begin with.
Without giving much away, there’s a slight similarity to The Shining the way how Things Heard & Seen progress towards the end. Is Catherine developing paranoid disorder? Or is George possessed matter of fact? However rather than showcasing the fear and thrills faced by the protagonists, much of the developments are largely skimmed through with the marital issues more in focus resulting in a rushed and uninspired ending.
This is apparently Amanda Seyfried’s second horror outing after the equally dismal You Should Have Left. Obviously, the lackluster script has nothing to do with Seyfried or Norton. Mystery, thriller, horror, supernatural, drama. Things Heard & Seen is strangely a movie with many things but mostly ado about nothing.
Review by Linus Tee