Friday, April 30, 2021

Things Heard and Seen Review: An Atmospheric Film That Does Not Do Enough To Be Seen Or Heard

Release date: April 29, 2021
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Joe Penna
Written by: Joe Penna and Ryan Morrison
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton

A Manhattan couple moves to a historic hamlet in the Hudson Valley and come to discover that their marriage has a sinister darkness, one that rivals their new home’s history. Based on the acclaimed novel by Elizabeth Brundage.

Things Heard and Seen's main draw is the stellar cast for this atmospheric haunting film.  It has Amanda Seyfriend and James Norton as a young couple who move to a rural town in the hopes of a better life.  The pair are great in their own respect and do a good job of portraying this couple.  I really liked James Norton's character, as a charismatic teacher who is always smiling and always scheming.  And although Amanda Seyfried's character doesn't portray a lot of emotion, I do think she did a fine job.  The film is set mostly in an old house, with plenty of creaks, electricity issues, and other telltale signs of a haunting.  The story is slow to progress with many ups and downs, and overall this is an interesting film to watch. I really liked the setting and some of the side characters who add some life to this world.

But Things Heard and Seen's story takes a long time to develop.  I feel like this is to set the tone of the film and let you really get to know this young couple, but it seems like it could have been shortened down.  Some of this could have been by removing extraneous plot threads that do help to flesh out the characters but don't contribute much to the overall film. And some of this could have been a quicker pace to get into the more supernatural elements.  Things Heard and Seen takes a very long time to get to anything supernatural, and when it finally does, the effects are not impressive and the overall supernatural elements do not wow you.  The whole film is an exercise in subdued story telling, but this also leads to a climax that does not surprise and that also doesn't feel as shocking as it could have.  And for a film that has so much development, the emotional turns in it seem to happen too quickly.  

Now Things Heard and Seen does have an interesting use of the supernatural to explore a marriage that already had issues.  It uses the supernatural to amplify the existing issues, and to frame the overall haunting.  And it also does get more interesting as it develops and as you learn more about this town and the strange house this couple resides in.  But in the end, the film just does not excite, does not scare, and doesn't cause you to care about the plight of this family.  Things Heard and Seen should not be ignored, but it doesn't scream out to be watched.

Things Heard and Seen has a great cast and a good atmosphere, but the overall pace of the film and the subdued nature make for a not scary horror / drama experience.

Rent it.

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Things Heard and Seen is available on Netflix on April 29, 2021.

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