Things Heard and Seen

Vampire Owl: I have seen and heard many things.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have to see and hear a lot these days.

Vampire Owl: I have seen and listened to more specific things.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires are supposed to have a shared vision too.

Vampire Owl: Well, we are now in an age of respect for privacy.

Vampire Bat: You have a lot of privacy within the coffin.

Vampire Owl: It is just undead privacy. That won’t count.

Vampire Bat: Why do you require so much of privacy these days after sleeping in cemetery for most of your life?

Vampire Owl: The world has changed, even though we haven’t.

Vampire Bat: And you want to change against all vampire traditions.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: It is the year 1979, and Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), an art restorer, lives in Manhattan with her husband George Claire (James Norton) and daughter. When George gets the job of teaching art history at a college, the family is forced to move into a huge farmhouse in the countryside of New York. The house seems to be really old, belonging to the 1800s, and is a big house, which is available at a small price. As an art restorer, Catherine instantly falls in love with the place, and it also has a piano which seems to have been abandoned for a long time. The child is first one to be scared in the house, even though the parents are more interested in the beauty of the place as well as the low cost. George is happy to be in the new college campus, but Catherine feels isolated in the house. Catherine employs brothers Eddie Vayle (Alex Neustaedter) and Cole Vayle (Jack Gore) from nearby to take care of the house, while she remains obsessed about her gaining weight, and eats very less.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Catherine finds the family tree of people who were living in the house before. She also comes actoss an antique ring, which she starts wearing. Their daughter continues to wish to sleep with her parents. Catherine goes to the Historical Society, and tells them that she wishes to volunteer for their programmes, as she is new to the town, and loves to meet the people around. There, she finds the old photos of the house, and of the people who had originally built the house. George meets Eddie’s cousin sister Willis Howell (Natalia Dyer) in a library, and they start an affair. He is also quite popular in the college too, despite giving up fine arts to focus on the theory. Catherine become friends with George’s colleague Justine Sokolov (Rhea Seehorn), while George remains close to the department head Floyd DeBeers (F Murray Abraham). Their daughter keeps telling them that she had seen a lady in her room, and Catherine has the eerie feeling, but George dismisses both of them, but for how long?

The defence of Things Heard and Seen :: The movie can boast about a beautiful as well as eerie setting which is present throughout its run. A number of paintings from the Hudson River School, a mid nineteenth century American art movement influenced by Romanticism, can be seen here throughout the movie, and the beautiful paintings often reflects different parts of the setting in movie itself. As they nicely depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, we also wonder if there could be a similar movie about British Romanticism, reflecting what the Lake Poets of the time had penned down. The focus on relationships do happen, and the emotional as well as dramatic side is strong, even though overdone at times, with some moments not really making that much sense related to the situations. The performances are of top quality, and the twists are very much effective – there are many of them, as we look around. You have to love how things come together in the end here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does feel a little long, as it takes some time to keep things going forward. It seems to be on a struggle to establish everything right at the beginning, and later, the struggle makes way for the lack of pace, and then there is another struggle to end things. It shows so much promise in between, and then it just misses out on the whole thing. There are lots of slow moments in between, and speeding up or removing the same would have made this film no longer than one and a quarter hours instead of the two hours length which seems rather too much. It seems that it has also kept the elements of horror to the minimum, and the focus is shifted to drama instead. The movie is basically categorized as horror, but it is more of drama and mystery – the chances to have some terrifying sequences in this atmosphere have not been taken, and it is a shame that despite finding so many opportunities, they have let it go. The idea is really good, and they haven’t really used it to the best effect.

The performers of the soul :: I have loved most of the early movies of Amanda Seyfried, and she shines in this one too, even though there is the feeling of being a little tired. This still won’t be among my favourite performances or movies of her, but with the focus on her, she maintains the character with all characteristics, without failing at any point. The work of James Norton is solid, and the realization of the true nature in him comes through stages – a character with many faces, but is much lovable at all places. You will also notice how Natalia Dyer comes in, does a fine job in the few minutes when she is there. Alex Neustaedter also blends in to the role really well, and so does Jack Gore who plays his brother. Rhea Seehorn comes with a nice performance in a role which has more than what it seemed in the early stages of the movie. One can say the same about F Murray Abraham who also has more to contribute than we would think. Emily Dorsch’s ghostly appearance doesn’t get what it deserves – no spirit in this movie gets what was deserved.

How it finishes :: Things Heard and Seen is a slow moving drama and mystery film with horror taking the backseat as if it is terrified of the dramatic elements. But it still works with some fine twists, and there are the surprises which were not thought about before. The final few moments take the thrilling path, and there are also some symbolic moments to go with them here. The title would also seem to make perfect sense as the movie reaches the final stages, and big revelations are made. It doesn’t go through the path of usual horror movies due to the mixing of genre, and therefore, we have no need to expect The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister, Deliver Us From Evil, The Curse of La Llorna, or anything like that which brings some direct horror with the evil sprits. This movie is certainly not about that kind of horror. This one just flows slowly with the drama, as mysteries are revealed, and finally ends with the twists in a thrilling few moments. You can watch this particular movie only with this type of expectations.

Release date: 29th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Natalia Dyer, Rhea Seehorn, Karen Allen, Alex Neustaedter, Jack Gore, F Murray Abraham, Michael O’Keefe, Emily Dorsch, James Urbaniak

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

2 thoughts on “Things Heard and Seen

  1. Pingback: Wrong Turn – Movies of the Soul

  2. Pingback: Meppadiyan – Movies of the Soul

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