It has been reported that Debbie Harry was initially attached to play Iris Blum, though the role ultimately went to Paula Prentiss. However, director Oz Perkins has stated that the role was always thought for Prentiss, who worked with his father in "Catch-22" and remained friends since. See more »
The narrative of the story says the young bride was brought to the house her husband built for her in 1812, but the dress and hairstyle she is wearing, as a ghost, is from the period of the 1850s to the 1860s. Since she was murdered soon after moving into the house, the dress and hairstyle do not match her backstory. See more »
I remember thinking that it felt like Fall would never come. And then... it never did.
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I was captured by the very first scene of the girl in the dress. Like a painting from the futurism style, it blends movement and motion into a final still, out of focus, and it looks stunning on the mostly black big screen. All of this is overlayed with narration that is simply perfectly spoken (which is consistent for the film, a beautiful read), but more importantly beautifully written. The narration, which comprises most of the spoken lines of the film, is more a poem than a movie script, and I appreciated it for it. The image was a painting, the words were literature, as a whole the film was successful as an art piece.
It revolves around a live-in nurse moving into a house to care for an old author who used to write horror books. The nurse starts experiencing subtle signs of a haunting, and finds a strange connection between what is happening to her and one of the author's most famous books.
As an idea, it was the kind of quiet horror I love, channeling fear through the uncanny, like old written weird fiction (my mind took me back to reading the Yellow Wallpaper by Gilman). Fear is not even the right word, as nothing about the film is scary, really. More like a feeling of wrongness with the world, an existential dread of sorts.
Not to detract from the beauty of the art on display, which was anything but shallow, but the plot itself unfortunately was. Pretty, but surface. Only unfinished hints of a story, that relies a bit too heavily on the viewer to fill in the gaps. I am always a fan of ambiguity, and it is almost necessary for me in a horror film (definites tend to disappoint), but there is still a balance to be struck with some concrete details. Osgood Perkins' last film, February, struck the perfect balance between ambiguity and detail, and for that was my favourite horror of 2015. Here, unfortunately, the scale has moved too much in one direction, to the point of feeling unfinished and not entirely satisfying. I also did not love the ending, which is much too close to that of another stunningly subtle recent horror, by one of the most famous current horror directors. Actually, I loved the ending (as a part of the story on display), it fit very well, I just didn't love that I had already seen it so recently. A sad problem of timing.
All in all, I can't possibly not recommend The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, because it is a soul-satisfying kind of pretty, from sound to visuals to acting. But if what you're after is horror (or even a particularly engaging drama), it won't quench that kind of thirst. Only one for beauty.
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