Netflix has impressed us over and over again with the quality of its “Originals.” Its Marvel adaptions have been stellar, as well as it’s anime contributions such as Ajin: Demihuman. Then there’s the acclaimed House of Cards, Narcos, Orange is the new Black…the list literally goes on and on. It only makes sense that they would eventually delve into the world of horror, a move that will hopefully be more of a long-term affair rather than short-lived sojourn.
Writer/Director Oz Perkins brings us the first of hopefully many offerings with the somewhat long-winded I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House. The first ten minutes of the film introduces us to the characters, and even more so, to the loneliness, sadness, and despair that seems to saturate the story. Ruth Wilson is fantastic as Lily, our easily scared caregiver of famed but now bedridden horror author, Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Our heroine is fond of monologues, which are hauntingly beautiful and chilling in the same breath. It’s atmospheric, but without the overbearing orchestral music and jump-scare jitters; creepy without being corny. The definitely sets off on the right foot.
The film doesn’t necessarily break any boundaries or revolutionize the traditional ghost story, but I personally found it succeeding at what Crimson Peak tried to do; combine classical horror and romantic, gothic story telling. It’s artfully shot and cinematically sublime. The monologues are dark poetry and the dialogues are made to feel foreboding and fatalistic. Everything is done with purpose, albeit at a tediously slow pace.
In a film where every shot is carefully chosen and every creak, crack, and clank serve a particular purpose, patience is most definitely a virtue. It’s slow, and I’m not only talking about the pacing. The shots last longer than you’d expect and the actions are often done at near a sloth’s pace. I personally found it quite beautiful, but if you are instead looking for a jump a minute scare fest, then you are most definitely going to be disappointed. It is a story that unfolds through dramatic prose and panning cameras with randomly blurred blackouts. Is it pretentious? Perhaps, but the title should have given that away. There are many things that it is, and many things that it isn’t…but in the end, I’d have to go with simply calling it unique, and that in and of its own is an achievement.
If you are looking for a run-of-the-mill haunting film then give it a miss. If you want something more cinema nouveau then most definitely check it out. This is one of those that you are either going to love or hate, probably for the exact same reasons. Catch the trailer below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.