I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

12/03/2017 14:54

Film: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

Year: 2016

Director: Oz Perkins

Writer: Oz Perkins

Starring: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss and Bob Balaban



This film starts showing us darkness and a blurry woman. We get a voice-over that is telling about when there is a death in a house that it then belongs to the ghost and is just borrowed by the people that live there.

We then see woman entering a house. We see a sign just before stating Blum and we learn that this person is dying. Ruth Wilson is a hospice nurse that is coming to live with her until she passes on. Blum is played by Paula Prentiss and she doesn’t say much. The man who is in charge of the estate is Bob Balaban. He shows Wilson to the place. We know that Prentiss is a famous horror writer as well.

From the beginning, we see that Wilson is off. She sees very nervous and does things pretty peculiar. Throughout the film we get voice-overs and she repeats some phrases quite a bit. Her first night there she can’t sleep being in a new house. She calls one of her friends on the phone and we see the cord as it is pulled taut until it is ripped from her hands. She pretends like she just pulled it too far.

Wilson hears Prentiss talking and goes up to her. Prentiss calls her Polly and Wilson tries to tell her what her name is. She doesn’t seem to understand. Wilson also notices there is a stain on one of the walls. She contacts Balaban about what to do about this. He comes over and looks at it, leaving a card for a contractor who can fix it. Wilson asks Balaban about who Polly is and he tells her he doesn’t know. He does point out that Prentiss’ most famous novel main character was named Polly. He won’t spoil the ending, but states that it is never revealed what happens to the main character.

Wilson states can’t handle anything too scary, but she decides to try to read this novel to figure out what happened to her. The first line of the novel is recited to us and is very similar to the opening line of the film. We see that the blurry woman in the beginning is Polly in this novel, played by Lucy Boynton. We see her walking around the house with a blindfold on, feeling it out.

The film also shows us Prentiss as a younger woman, played by Erin Boyes. Boyes seems to be being told the story by Boynton’s ghost or that is what Wilson starts to believe happened.

We see Wilson as she slowly starts to go crazy in all of this. She is cleaning blackberries and thinks that she has similar markings on her arms as the wall that might have mold. She calls the company to check on the wall and they ask her to check to see if the room about it is leaking into the wall, as they are getting a lot of rain. She finds a box in a closet that is labeled Polly. She takes it and starts to look through it.

Can Wilson solve this mystery before it is too late? Is there anything supernatural happening here or is it all in the mind of Wilson? What happened to Boynton?

I heard about this film through horror film podcasts I listen to. I had watched director, Oz Perkins’ film The Blackcoat’s Daughter before seeing this one and I was intrigued as I really liked that one. This one isn’t as good as that one, but he still did a solid job here. He is great at making things atmospheric. The film has an unsettling feeling from the beginning, from the score choice, the voice-over narration, what the narrator is telling us and the mental state of Wilson from the beginning. I like that this film is up for you to interpret what you think is happening. Is the house haunted? Or do we have an isolated, unstable woman who is creating the horrors she thinks she is experiencing. I love films that make me think like this one. This film though is just a slightly too ambiguous though as not a lot happens really and there are just too many left open questions for me to give this a much higher score.

The acting of Wilson was amazing in this film. I like that we see from the beginning that she is unstable. We get that that she was engaged and then that fell through. She took this job, where she is isolated from everything and it wears on her. To make it even worse too, she believes the author of a famous novel was dictated the story by a ghost and pieces a mystery together that might or might not really exist. I will say that unfortunately no one else really brings anything to the table for acting, because they aren’t given the chance. Prentiss plays the invalid woman well and she is creepy. Balaban is good for what he is needed to do, but it’s minimal. Boynton just looks pretty and isn’t giving much else to do either.

One of my favorite aspects of the film was the score and sound. The score helps to make scenes have an unsettling and eerie feel. The sounds were so realistic too. When it is raining, you can hear it hitting the roof and makes you feel like it might be raining in real life. I thought that was great. For effects, there isn’t much in the way of that. We get the ghosts are shown as being translucent, which looked good. We also get Wilson where her arms look like they are infected with something. I’m assuming both were CGI, but I had no issues there. The editing of the film is decent as well. It moves in an odd way and comes back to things. The film is slow though as it is a slow burn. The payoff at the end isn’t as great as I would like.

Now with that said, I would say this is a slightly above average film. The story is good and I love the character that Wilson plays. I would have liked some more of the questions explained, but I like the films makes me think. The score and sound of the film is wonderful. There isn’t much in the way of effects, but the ones that were used were good. The editing has some issues, yet still decent. I think many will not care for this film as the big critique I see is that nothing happens. This is a slow burn film with not a big payoff at the end, but I’m curious to see what people think after seeing this one. Is there really a ghost or is this the overworking imagination of a woman who is mentally unstable?


My Rating: 7 out of 10