Things Heard & Seen
things heard & seen | shari springer berman | robert pulcini | amanda seyfried | james norton | natalia dyer | based on | novel | elizabeth brundage | drama | mystery | thriller | united states | karen allen | f. murray abraham | rhea seehorn | ghost | ghosts | haunted
Film: Things Heard & Seen
Director: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Writer: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton and Natalia Dyer
This was a movie I hadn’t heard about until Jaime and I were watching something that ended on Netflix and this was a trailer that popped up to recommend to us next. It intrigued both of us and learning this was a horror movie, we decided we would watch this. Aside from what little bit I saw there, I came in here pretty blind not really hearing anyone else talking about this movie. The synopsis is an artist relocates to the Hudson Valley and begins to suspect that her marriage has a sinister darkness. One that rivals her new home’s history.
We start this off with an empty classroom. There is a projector showing slides on a desk and one of them we actually go into. We learn this is winter of 1980. George Claire (James Norton) drives up to a house in the middle of no where. From here, we go into the spring before.
George is married to Catherine (Amanda Seyfried). They’re having friends and family over for their daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger) as it is her birthday. George just recently successfully defended his dissertation and has accepted a professor position at Saginaw College, which is upstate New York. Currently, they’re living in New York City where Catherine is a mural restorer. She is going to give up her life since her husband has given up a lot previously. Catherine doesn’t seem all that happy to do so though.
From the beginning there are problems between them. Catherine is bulimic. George is concerned with her well-being here. Regardless of her mental state, he takes her out to look at a house. Mare Laughton (Karen Allen) is their realtor. George is excited where Catherine isn’t as thrilled. She knows that no matter what, they’re moving here. George is hiding the past of this house from his wife though.
As they go to start a new life here, Cathrine meets Eddie (Alex Neustaedter) and his younger brother Cole (Jack Gore). They offer their services, which include house repairs, landscaping and babysitting. George isn’t thrilled, but it hard to argue with how cheap their prices are. He isn’t too fond his wife is spending a lot of time with them as he does know the truth of their past.
Part of the reason though is the temptation that he feels at work. He gets to meet his new boss of Floyd DeBeers (F. Murray Abraham). Floyd is an odd man who believes in the afterlife and gets an interesting book for George. This younger man also draws the attention of a faculty member of Justine (Rhea Seehorn). She wants to get to know him and his wife, while also being concerned with how much the students seem to ‘worship’ him. The true temptation shows up in the form of Willis (Natalia Dyer).
Catherine is dealing with something else at the house. It starts with smelling smoke and her daughter is having trouble sleeping. There is a presence in the house that George refuses to believe. Catherine finds a bible from the original owners where the wife’s name is scratched out. She also finds a ring that when she puts it on, she seems to become more confident in herself.
There is a lot of tension that bubbling under the surface and even more when we see how far George’s deception goes. It will ruin everything if he doesn’t get on top of it and how far will he go to keep his ‘perfect’ life?
Now that is where I’m going to leave my recap. I will say that it went farther than I really wanted it to go, but this movie runs two hours long and has a lot of moving parts. Where I think I want to start is with the Claire family. It is interesting that this movie is taking place in 1980. We are just leaving the 1970s where we had the feminist revolution. Catherine in the beginning is the primary income. She is supporting the family while George is going to school. It is revealed in the beginning, he’s been secretly getting help from his parents and they’ve cut him off. Catherine is blindsided by this information. This all does have a lot of unneeded stress on her which I think in part contributes to her bulimia. We see later on that George is another part there. I do want to give credit to Seyfried in this role. We see that she is a bit timid at first and then I love the change once she starts wearing the ring she finds. It is growth for me, even though it didn’t come from inside.
George is where I want to go next. In the beginning, he seems like a guy who does want the best for his family. He isn’t necessarily going about it in the right way. The more we get to learn about him though, the more we dislike him. The first bit here is when he meets Willis. Don’t get me wrong, Dyer is attractive. George is still married though and he actually meets her with his daughter right there. This is the point where I started to dislike him. I do like there is a potential supernatural angle that is making him worse, but we see that had some deep seeded issues for a long time. I love how they all come to light as this goes on.
Since I’ve brought it up, I’ll next to the supernatural. I thought pretty early on that this was going to be a ghost/haunted house movie. We do get some of that. Floyd tells George when they meet that he’s a believer. George is not. He seems more like an atheist. Catherine was raised catholic, so that does make sense for her. Catherine immediately feels a presence in the house as does her daughter. She avoids the subject as it upsets George. What I do have a problem here though. We go away from this aspect. Really this movie is more of a modern gothic ghost story where these entities aren’t the focus, but they are guiding things. I don’t mind when movies do this. My problem though is that I didn’t necessarily love the stories we focus on. I think reining those in and ramping up this a bit more would have given a better balance to the idea.
What I will give credit to this movie though was the feeling of frustration it gave me. While I was watching this with Jaime, we both got pretty vocal about what we were seeing and thinking that the punishment wasn’t going to happen. I’m not going to spoil if it does or not, but I thought the ending was fitting. There were 2 ways it could have gone; either would have worked for me to enjoy it. We do get one of them so it was sufficient in my eyes.
I feel that is enough for the story here. I’ve already went into the acting a bit with Seyfried. I was impressed there. I do have to say that Norton was good as well. He made me despise him with each reveal and I always say, if you can get me to react with your performance, you’ve done something right. I liked seeing cameos by Allen, Abraham, Dyer and Seehorn here. Thought they all did well and fit for what was needed. Aside from them, I did enjoy Neustaedter and Gore in their roles as these brothers with a trouble past. The acting was good across the board with no issues there.
Then really the last thing to go into would be the effects, cinematography and soundtrack. For the former, we did go with quite a bit of CGI. To be honest, when it comes to the ghosts, I was fine with it. It actually gave them a creepy vibe actually since we are only getting a glimpse of them mostly. There are some good effects with the lights that worked for me. Not all of the CGI was great though, I do need to point that out. The cinematography was good in my opinion. The soundtrack also fit for what was needed. I had no issues there.
With that said, in conclusion here I think that this movie has an interesting concept. We are setting it in the past and taking the gothic style of haunting to update it to the 1980s. I think that the acting is good across the board. Most of the effects were solid, with some slight issues with the CGI. The cinematography and the soundtrack were solid aside from that. I do wish they would have leaned into the supernatural a bit more as the story we focused on wasn’t as interesting to me unfortunately. Overall I would say this is still over average for me. There are some strong parts and others that I was left wanting more from. Still worth a viewing if you are into movies like this.
My Rating: 6 out of 10