Sunday, May 16, 2021

Things Heard & Seen

Movie Name:
Things Heard & Seen
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, F. Murray Abraham, Natalia Dyer, Karen Allen, Rhea Seehorn, Michael O'Keefe, James Urbaniak, Cotter Smith, Ana Sophia Heger, Alex Neustaedter, Jack Gore, Marion McCorry, Kristin Griffith
Genre: Drama, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
Directing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini made an auspicious debut with "American Splendor". This adaptation of the book by Elizabeth Brundage is their latest endeavor, and the one which takes them in the direction of the horror/suspense genre. The film takes place in 1980 and follows the story of a young couple, composed of Catherine and George Claire, who have a young daughter by the name of Franny. As George gets a teaching position in upstate New York, Catherine decides to give up her position as an Art restorer, and make the situation work for her and her family in the new bucolic surroundings. They buy a house which is filled with history, but also where much drama has occurred in the past. As the dynamics between the young couple surface, their strained relationship begins to become all the more apparent, as does George's infidelities and later on, more serious accusations. Catherine in the meantime starts noticing some odd occurrences in the house, until she notices some entity is there. As she and some newfound friends, understand more of the purpose of what is happening in the house, and what took place there, Catherine also realizes the situation and relationship she's in. As George's behavior becomes increasingly erratic, Catherine maps out her escape, without realizing her plans may have already been uncovered.
"Things Heard & Seen" has the makings of a truly interesting suspense film, which for instance in the hands of James Wan or Leigh Whannell, could have played with the tropes of the genre, and brought a fresh take on it. As it is, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, opt to make a film that is mostly illustrative and fairly conventional, never truly showcasing much about the central characters and their inner workings. The film is not taut enough to have a B-film approach to it, and does not possess much of a distinct point of view to render it as a prestige film (if those even yet exist). It's a film that never really knows what it wants to be, one that never actually creates an unsettling environment such as Ari Aster's "Hereditary" for instance, and therefore it fails to have conviction in what is trying to say. Even if the epilogue tries to take the narrative into another dimension, it's just too late and ultimately doesn't add the dimension it should. The cast for the most part does not work: Amanda Seyfried and James Norton don't share much familiarity with each other (or chemistry for that matter), and ultimately F. Murray Abraham ends up being the one who adds heart and humanity to the film. While not a terrible film, it's ultimately a forgettable one.