A too-slow slow burn with inventive vignetted flashlight camerawork, speculative ghost analysis, and occasional suspense that’s sadly lost in a confined narrative, monotonous narration, and too-uneventful slosh_of_a_final_product._4.2/10.
Plot Synopsis: Hired to care for a reclusive elderly author (Paula Prentiss), a live-in nurse (Ruth Wilson) comes to believe her house is haunted.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
I’m always in the mood for a good ghost story. ‘I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House’: intriguing name, kitsch trailer, and interesting premise, I was hooked in. But I should have squirmed to get off it as the film is a poor product bordering on waste of time for all between the first 2-3 minutes and last 20. It begins with a stunning, suspenseful slow-simmered narration opening with existential ghost analysis, phenomenal VFX, and intricate laying of the premise that the narrator has died and is now a ghost we have to help her remember how exactly she died.
The camerawork in the sequence and throughout the film is clever and mystified using a combo of vignetted and flashlighted cams working in tandem to create a chilling effect for a ghost story, plot structure interesting in its back-to-front/death-to-life-back construction, screenplay decent with some interesting points on the fleeting nature of beaty and how it rots as we grow old and decay like the house the film’s centered in, and locational setting apt of an old creaky historical house in Braintree, Massachusetts. So, how exactly does it turn to failure with these pro’s trying to buoy it? Well, I could sum it up with one word: monotony.
The film is far too slow with no real jumps or scares to separate or break up the slog until the moderately-exciting last 20 minutes. Beyond that, Ruth Wilson is positively somnambulistic as narrator and lead actress; She is so boring talking with an extreme monotone and lull you have to wonder how on earth she got cast here – There’s a fine line between slow-burning and burning-too-slow. It gets to a downright chore just to watch at times, especially in the middle just begging for some more inventive teases and scares to infuse some life into it, and even at times feeling it was purposely drawn out just to get to the finish line – like Lily’s simple task of opening Polly’s box that somehow turns into a 2/3-minute affair – instead of courageously just ending early or changing structure into short film by the filmmakers which would have been a better choice.
Overall, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is one of the most drab and boring wastes of an hour and a half I’ve seen in filmmaking this year. Its ‘Lady In The Walls’ and Polly storyline could have been a great premise for a horror movie in the right hands, but here it is just wasted and few people will be able to keep interest to that final revelation that at least makes it somewhat worth the struggle to get there. A too-slow slow burn with inventive vignetted flashlight camerawork, speculative ghost analysis, and occasional suspense that’s sadly lost in a confined narrative, monotonous narration, and too-uneventful slosh of a final product, you’re better off looking for another ghost story than stopping here.
Official CLC Score: 4.2/10