No one can every accuse Netflix of not investing money in their movies and series because Things Heard & Seen is gorgeous and gorgeously shot (by Director of Photography Larry Smith).
It’s also particularly well-acted (Amanda Seyfried and James Norton bring more gravitas to the material than it deserves) though because we can’t have nice things in this country I guess it was inevitable that Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (based on the novel All Things Cease To Appear by Elizabeth Brundage) who wrote and directed, would drop the ball.
The opening, when viewed in context of the entire movie, makes no sense though it so obviously makes no sense that I wondered that maybe the filmmakers were trolling viewers.
And I should mention that I haven’t read Things Cease To Appear though I’m sorely tempted to because I can’t accept that it’s even possibly as badly assembled as this movie.
Which brings to mind the ghost story, which is so unnecessary to anything that actually happens that you could remove every trace of it and it would make no difference to the final product.
Which is a MASSIVE problem.
In some ways it reminds me of Oz Perkins’ I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House except that Springer Berman and Pulcini are incapable of maintaining the delicate balance between the mundane and the supernatural that Perkins is particularly adept at (what’s interesting is that Springer Berman and Pulcini’s movie is more dynamic that anything I’ve seen from Oz Perkins, yet Perkins’ movies are creepier, more haunting and more effective than anything the pair has done here despite that fact).
Another problem is that from when we first meet George and Fanny Claire (Norton and Seyfried) they’re already pretty broken – she’s suffering from anorexia while he’s off-putting in ways you can’t entirely put your finger on though let’s just say an eating disorder is the least of their problems.
As I implied the ghosts aren’t a threat and we don’t learn enough about them before they died to draw any parallels between them and the Clare’s, which once again begs the question why were they there in the first place.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning that this movie is closer to American Psycho (2000) than Poltergeist (1982), which is fine if it worked though when you add a layer of story (whether it be a ghost story or whatever) that doesn’t sync with the rest you just bring everything down.