by Ian Morton
Things Heard and Seen has been released today on Netflix and while there was some promise in the films opening set up, a poorly managed script leaves a lot to be desired for.
Based on the book, All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, the story follows a young couple as they move to the country from the busy city. George (James Norton) has a new job and so his wife Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter Franny are forced to move with him as they start a new chapter in their lives. All is not gold however as their new home houses more than a few spiders and it doesn’t take long for things to go bump in the night and the mysterious history of the house begins to unveil itself.
The problem with the film is its inability to know whether it wants to be a mystery or a horror movie, perching midway between the two genres and ultimately suffering by not committing to either one. The opening 15 minutes forms a pretty strong horror introduction, the house they buy is oddly old, their neighbours suitably creepy and the boiling turmoil between the couple all pointing towards something decent, the problem however is when it tries to circumvent expectations and be something more.
There are two plot points being balanced within the workings of Things Heard and and Seen and neither are developed enough to equal a good movie. Wearing its plot on its sleeve, there is very little here in terms of tension past the opening 15 minutes and that’s a problem when you are wanting to drive two separate storylines to a satisfying conclusion
Almost every element of the plot is spelt out to the audience and every character has their reason for being painted across the screen before they’ve ever opened their mouths. This lack of mystery never gives the narrative space to breath, lacking any semblance of tension and making almost every part of the film, including its twists, more predictable than it should be and losing any momentum as we enter the final act.
As with most book to film adaptations, there is probably a better story hidden between the pages than there is on the big screen. Rather than balance a difficult plot or fleshing out its character, failings come from how the story has been told. Netflix doesn’t have the best line up of original exclusives, Things Heard and Seen does very little to change that.
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