Things Heard & Seen
At one point in the generically titled Things Heard & Seen, George (James Norton) is chastising his wife Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) as they bed down for the night in their vaguely menacing new home in the country. “Please stop with the ghost stuff,” he says. However, audiences will already be impatiently waiting for the film to please start with the ghost stuff – or indeed – please start with anything that resembles a reason to keep watching. By the time the ghostly business gets underway, it’s clear that Catherine should be more concerned about menaces amongst the living.
Catherine, George and their daughter Franny have relocated from the city to the pleasant enough countryside of upstate New York. George has recently accepted a position teaching art history at a small college, largely leaving Catherine to her own devices as she potters around their foreboding new home, which (shockingly) might have a sinister history. Although seemingly a happy and prosperous young couple, Catherine and George’s wealth apparently doesn’t permit them to purchase light bulbs.
The movie is, literally, so very dark. As a Netflix original, it’s intended to be watched at home – and anyone who cares to do so should close the curtains and turn off all the lights. This won’t enhance the quality of the flick, but eliminating any background glare will at least make it possible to actually see what’s happening. So much takes place in gloomily lit interiors that some scenes appear to be little more than shadows interacting with each other whilst exchanging perfunctory dialogue in need of a thorough polishing. Audiences might wonder if the true horror of this picture is in fact macular degeneration. Even scenes taking place outdoors in full daylight seem to have had the colour sucked out of them.
Things Heard & Seen‘s strength is Seyfried. It’s a tribute to her considerable skills that she’s able to take such rickety, poorly written foundations and build a character who is empathetic and plausible. Her co-stars fare less well. As George, James Norton tries to create layers for a toxic, gaslighting man with virtually no redeeming features. Sure, he’s disconcertingly preoccupied with appearances, but the character should appear to be more than a slick, empty husk. It’s difficult to muster up much enthusiasm for Catherine and George as their overlong story creaks towards a conclusion that’s as unsatisfying as it is silly, while being disappointingly devoid of chills.
Things Heard & Seen is released on Netflix on 29th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Things Heard & Seen here: