M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on October 28, 2016! Streaming on Netflix!
I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE (2016)
Directed by Oz Perkins
Written by Oz Perkins
Starring Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Lucy Boynton, Bob Balaban, Brad Milne, Erin Boyes
I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is a powerful film. Those with a short attention span who like jump scares every other minute might want to give this a pass, but this slow-mo burner rises to a sizzle if you make it to the end.
A wide-eyed hospice worker named Lily (Ruth Wilson) moves into the house of an elderly woman named Iris (Paula Prentiss) once known for writing gothic horror novels. As her early narration indicates, Lily lasts only about a year at the home and the movie tells the story of what occurs to Lily while in this strange and haunted house.
Moving at a listless and dreamlike pace, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is going to be an exercise in patience for many modern horror moviegoers. Narrated slowly and particularly by Wilson, the film moves at its own stride, not really paying attention to the modern template of how a horror movie should look and feel. It’s because of that patience that this film is one of the better ghost stories you’re going to find this year. The film almost sleepwalks through the house, not really paying attention to the pace within the narrative (as many months are skipped to in order to tell the tale of one year in an hour and a half). Much time is spent of Lily reading passages from Iris’ books as well as her speaking from some kind of dark place she ends up. Because Lily tells us early that she dies by the end of the film, there is an air of anticipation not for her to die, but for the house to make its move and where Lily ends up by the end of the film. Because so much is spoken about in past tense, there is an overwhelming sense of dread that permeates every frame of this one as we know it won’t end well and just are waiting for the axe to drop.
Son of Anthony Perkins, Oz Perkins does a fantastic job of making this film look and feel absolutely unique. We walk through this story as if it were whispering in our ear (and if you listen to Netflix on headphones it’ll make for a terrifying experience) and the haunting, double exposed images move in slow motion during the narration bits. These portions of the story where ghostly forms move across the screen, smearing specific features and making the normal look and feel surreal by slowing down the movements and washing out the colors. On top of that, the house itself that Lily finds herself in has all sorts of odd corridors and shadowy entranceways. While sometimes nothing at all comes out of the dark spaces, because the camera captures a dark void behind the character, there still is a buildup as we wait for something horrible to emerge from it. The furniture in the house is both elegant and surreal as well with chairs hanging upside down and antiquity all around lit dramatically. This is another decision to make the normal look abnormal and throws ones perceptions off despite the banality of what it happening in the scene. Once the ghost is revealed, she is normal, yet as the poster indicates, her head and body are on backwards—once again it’s the normal slightly skewed and twisted that makes this film burrow so deep in the viewers skin.
I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is a film one needs to let envelop them in order to enjoy it. Step into the shoes of Lily, who is harmless prey hopping unknowingly past a ready-to-strike cobra. Perkins focuses on every slow step Lily takes in this descent into the darkness with a steady and confident hand. Much like slow burn classics like THE INNOCENTS and REPULSION, and more modern slow sizzlers like LAKE MUNGO, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE is a horror not easy to forget. Having watched it a week ago, I still am thinking about how effective this waking nightmare of a ghost story was and if it has that effect on me, it’s got to be doing something right.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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