Thursday 29 April 2021

Things Heard & Seen (Movie Review)

Netflix recently released a video showing its upcoming films for the 2021 summer movie season. And one of the movies featured on that sizzle reel was their new horror film, Things Heard & Seen. In what was almost a "blink and you'll miss it" inclusion, the movie appeared to be treading familiar territory. Turns out it is yet another haunted house film with a very familiar cast caught in an all-too-familiar situation. But how exactly does this particular one differ from the many we've gotten recently? Not very much.

Set in the year 1980, the movie follows a family of three who move to a small-town after its patriarch, George (James Norton), gets a job in the countryside. If this already sounds all too familiar, it is because it is the same basic template for about a hundred other haunted house movies. The house in question is one that dates back to the late 1800s, and as you can guess it has a somewhat diabolical history the family is blissfully unaware of.

It doesn't take long after they'd moved in that lights start to flicker and furniture begin to move on its own, the usual telltale signs of a ghost haunting. The matriarch, Catherine (Amanda Seyfried), eventually discovers a book that seemed to have some disturbing information about the previous occupants. But after being continuously dismissed by her husband, she begins to suspect that he knew more about the hauntings than he was letting on.

From the first moment I caught wind of Things Heard & Seen, it was hard to shake the overwhelming sense of déjà vu I'd felt. Everything about the film just screamed "been there, done that," as though its filmmakers were merely content with trying to make another slow-burn horror film about a family in a haunted house. This wasn't helped by the fact that this one didn't even have anything new to say, despite the talent involved. 

Fresh off her Academy Award nominated performance in Mank, Amanda Seyfried sets into familiar territory once again. She'd only just starred in the eerily samey You Should Have Left, which came out last year, so it is almost unavoidable to draw comparisons between both movies. I mean, even their posters look practically interchangeable. At least she gives a decent if not quite memorable performance that doesn't manage to elevate the material.

Things Heard & Seen is yet another slow-burn horror film that requires way too much patience from its audience. The fact that it offers very little payoff only makes my time with the movie feel that much more wasted. But the movie's greatest shortcoming is its failings as a horror film. A better designation for the film would have been a paranormal drama. At least then expectations could've been managed better.

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