Written and directed by Oz Perkins (son of Anthony), I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is his second feature sitting in the driver’s seat and it shows promise beyond measure. Starring Brit actress Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Luther) and the brilliant Paula Prentiss the film is a slow moody prospect that will not necessarily appeal to all audiences.
Classed as a thriller, the movie with the overly long title feels like a combination of Repulsion and The Turn of the Screw. There is even a touch of Ty West’s The Innkeepers in the film’s slow-paced presentation.
Wilson plays Lily, a home hospice nurse, or carer. She has moved in with Ms. Blum (Prentiss) to look after her until she dies. Blum was an author when she was younger and a character in one of books is named Polly (played by Lucy Boynton).
Ms. Blum continually calls for Polly and this motivates Lily to read one of her employers old books.
The nurse is a highly imaginative and easily spooked young woman, she is 28 in the film, and she appears to have no friends, or perhaps one as Lily calls someone early on.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is painfully slow. Its pacing is one step away from being too much for the viewer to endure. As it crawls toward a conclusion the atmosphere and overall feeling of foreboding manages to save it from being boring.
Wilson is a capable actress; one who portrays any character with conviction and a certain amount of truth. However, the voice-over, which feels a tad too grammatically correct; like a school teacher reading from a textbook, almost kills the mood.
It is an intrusion to the carefully built up tension of Lily. A woman who is literally frightened by her own shadow who must battle her overly zealous imagination. The narration does carry the story forward to an extent but it is maddeningly off-putting. It throws the narrative more often than not.
Paula Prentiss manages to make Ms. Blum a sad and forlorn victim in her own house. The look of the former author is that of shellshocked survivor. As the film progresses she becomes slightly more verbal but by then it is too late. Anything she may say will not stop this film reaching its forgone conclusion.
As thriller’s go, this ghost tale set within another ghost story, comes close to missing the mark. Perkins almost undercuts himself. Playing down the scare factor to concentrate on the atmospheric off-kilter feeling of the house and its two occupants almost kills off any real satisfaction at the movies climax.
Lily’s whispered delivery of what she is either thinking or reading throughout really is the one thing that hurts the overall film. Although it does allow for enough confusion to suppose that she is going mad from the near solitude of her position.
When the film reaches its climax, it really does feel a bit like an homage to The Turn of the Screw. We have to ask ourselves if the young nurse experienced everything seen or was it an illusion.
Oz Perkins’ second feature length film is a sold 3.5 stars for its very dark and moody presentation. The film’s atmosphere counts for a lot, overcoming its lack of a big scare.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is streaming on Netflix as an “original” production. Head on over and see what you think. It is definitely worth a look, or two.