I Write These Movie Reviews Locked in the Trunk of Your Car. Thanks for the Snacks!!
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Written for the Screen by
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
Just to be clear, over the years, Netflix Originals have gotten a lot of cachet over the years thanks to the uptick in streaming services getting awards ceremony love. Just this year because of the pandemic, Netflix movies received over 600 Oscar nominations, mostly for Mank.
Netflix has been the home to riskier fare and a place for off center movies to find an audience they normally wouldn’t be able to. Films like The Irishman (a film that’s actually shorter than Zack Snyder’s Justice League- who knew?, Roma, and last year’s Mank have found its home in the same place you can watch Stranger Things over and over because you still haven’t gotten over the fact the 80s are f*cking over.
But it’s also been the home of Holidate, random terrible Adam Sandler movies, and last April’s what-the-f*ck-did-I-just-watch Thunder Force.
Unfortunately, the new “horror” movie Things Heard & Seen falls into the latter. It’s labeled a horror movie, but I will get you a month’s free Netflix subscription if you can reveal a scary part, any scary part, in this movie.*
*Disclaimer- I will not get you a free month of Netflix.
The only thing Things Heard & Seen (now to be called THAS because it’s shorter and this movie isn’t worth typing out the entire title) has in common with a good movie like Mank is its star, newly minted Oscar nominee Amanda Seyfried.
Then again, you can just watch Mortal Kombat again if you’re really that hard up for new entertainment. I know what an engaging thought provoking movie that was.
But at least Mortal Kombat kept you awake. Which is more than I can say for….
No. I’m just finishing the second coat now.
Things Heard & Seen opens sometime in 1980. Because cell phones and the internet would make this movie and its reveals go by so much faster.
There’s a slideshow of apocalyptic images you might see in the bible, which is about as exciting to see onscreen as it would be to actually read.
A woman named Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried – pronounced A-Man-da) is throwing up in the toilet in what looks like a child’s birthday party. Before you can say fun-o-rexic, we meet her husband George (James Norton) and their daughter Franny (played by Daniel Day-Lewis).
George is a professor of art or something and he got a new job upstate. They will be moving into a more rural area filled with exposition and a shady history.
Catherine likes where she’s living but she feels she owes it to George to help him fulfill his dream since he helped her years ago. Catherine and George are both artists but Catherine is the one with real talent.
They move to the countryside. They move into a house with real “character” They bought it for a reasonable price and it needs a lot of restoring, Hopefully not a lot of dying. There don’t seem to be any minorities which should be a red flag, but this is supposedly a horror movie and there’s no internet to research check a house which is really convenient if you want to draw out background exposition.
George is getting settled in his new job. The head of his department Floyd (Oscar Winner F. Murray Abraham – Thirteen Ghosts, Amadeus- from Amadeus to this…sorry) takes him on a tour of the facilities and takes him on a boat ride. George is getting a cult-like following from his younger female students. But that doesn’t mean anything to him because he’s married with a daughter. How is Catherine, by the way?
Catherine works by restoring churches. She’s looking to meet some new people because she doesn’t want to be cooped up in the house all day playing housewife. It’s just a coincidence that two young men have been staring at the house almost literally since they moved in. Their names are Eddie and Cole (Alex Neustaeder and Bradley Cooper) and if the house were a woman, they’d be world class creepers.
I just wrote that because I don’t feel like looking it up. This movie isn’t worth that type of level of commitment.
Eddie and Cole offer themselves to work for the Claires. Cheap. I don’t know, it’s almost like they have some sort of connection to the house which we won’t find out until well after an hour but which anyone could look up on the internet if this movie wasn’t set in the 80s.
Catherine is glad for the help, because she really wants to pawn Franny off to someone as she goes off to find some friends and learn a little bit more about the house. Catherine meets some elderly women at the historical society, and they give each other knowing looks when Catherine tells them where she lives.
Meanwhile, George is at a library doing research, and by “research” I mean he’s looking at underage girls. He finds a legally aged but much younger girl than him named Willis (Stranger Things’ Natalia Dyer…because it’s Netflix and set in the 80s) that he’d like to do research on. And by “research” I mean, copulate with. What are you talking about Willis?
Such a busy first couple of days. But at least the nights are relatively quiet.
Except the power keeps going on and off in Franny’s room. Franny is scared, and she has every reason to be.
Because the house has secrets.
George has secrets. His pants have secrets.
This entire town has secrets
Unless Catherine finds them out sooner than later, she won’t be able to hear or see things. Because she’ll be dead.
What Works With Things Heard & Seen
- Amanda Seyfried (pronounced Seyfried) gives a grounded performance which is critical for a movie like this. If you don’t believe her or her reactions to the kooky goings on, then the movie falls apart. The movie actually does fall apart, but it’s not her fault.
- Totally mislabeled as a horror movie…or a good movie, THAS works best as a domestic drama as the scenes between Seyfried and James Norton have some real bite. Too bad it’s not the focus of the movie.
What Doesn’t Work With Things Heard & Seen
- You neither hear nor see anything that will scare anyone who has never seen a horror movie before. The directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini dole out information most people will guess twenty minutes before they’re revealed. And the revelations aren’t all that shocking.
- The two main characters are Catherine and George. But then saddles us with about (or at least it feels like) two dozen characters, most of whom we don’t really need. A lot of the speaking parts could have been condensed and would have shortened the running time since we wouldn’t have to be introduced to meaningless characters.
- An anticlimax of an ending that’s shocking in the silence of its inanity. It’s slightly confusing but not impossible to understand. But the more you think about it the more idiotic it gets. You might have forgiven the movie and its meandering had it nailed the ending. But you end up madder than Catherine that you wasted two long hours on this.
Things Heard & Seen should not be seen by anyone who wants to stay awake. Or scared. Or interested. Or entertained.