I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (have to keep checking that title to make sure it’s right) is a long winded, overly self obsessed hipster monologue about the imprint of death on a house. Nothing more and nothing less, except the extolling of how the living no longer have claim over a house after someone has died in it. It’s tedious, monotonous and just boring with the exception of the spoopy moments that were supposed to be “scary” but just couldn’t get there. Unless you plan to make it a drinking game where you drink every time you see a chair on the ceiling I would stay as far away from this not so pretty movie as you can. If you watch it, watch another movie after to cleanse your palette, trust me you’ll need it. – 2.1/5 (genre)
We can all agree that Netflix has come out with some pretty amazing shows, and potentially even some good original movies. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is most definitely not one them. If there is any movie that I’ve watched over the last year that could easily be called spoopy it would be this one. So much so I’m not even sure where to begin, because the beginning is the ending and the ending is…something just miserable.
Much like it’s name this movie is comprised of overly long, pretentious diatribes that circle back on themselves so many times one could easily fall over from the dizziness. We begin with what will be one of many monologues delivered to us by the movies main character Lily (Ruth Wilson), extolling the toils and tribulations of being dead, death, and the effect said death has on a house. Because according to the lore of the movie once someone dies in a home it can no longer be bought or sold by the living but only borrowed for a time from the dead. You know, until they come to collect rent much like a regular landlord, except they want you to pay with your soul, or body or just plain death by boredom. The entire opening (nearly 5 minutes) is simply a black screen with a ghostly image on it that has a distorted face that slowly turns towards you, while Lily gives what could only be the opening to an epic poem like the Iliad, but not good.
After this long tortuously slow intro we are introduced to the house and Mrs. Blum (Paula Prentiss), the author of many horror stories who owns the house. One of the many stories she’s written is called “The Lady in the Walls”, and it was her most popular despite the fact that it had no ending. Thank you foreshadowing. Lily is a nurse brought in to care for Mrs. Blum until such time as she dies, and then the estate will go to some hard up writer that needs a place according to the will laid out. Lily moves in, introduces herself, and then we live the longest day in recorded history as I’m pretty sure the first day didn’t end until a half hour in. Don’t worry there’s plenty of talking going on, unfortunately for us all of it is by Lily. Even the phone conversation she has sounds like a monologue since we can’t hear the person on the other end. The random calling someone a slut from a person as soft spoken and “gentle” as Lily is really weird and just off putting, something that this movie did not need to add. Oh, and watch out for ceiling chairs (you heard me).
Funny enough, after this incredible long day we skip 11 months with seemingly no further ghostly activity other than that first night (which I’m not describing because it was so lackluster). Lily notices that there is a thumping coming from the wall and a slow growth of mold or mildew, pay careful attention here because it is obvious mildew is the great horror of the movie, Lily is most certainly convinced of this. I’m still wondering why she’s not concerned about the furniture on the ceiling but eh, that’s just me (yes I know there’s one shot late in the movie that clearly shows how that chair is up there but still). Lots of spoopy things start to happen in the most snail paced fashion, with Mrs. Blum calling Lily Polly constantly, the main character from her book whom she claims came to her as a ghost and told her everything to write. The ending is sadly blatantly obvious from the beginning but even more so from here on, spelled out like it was written across the wall, which by the way this movie could of used some of, you know ghostly writing on the wall.
So what was my problem with I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House? Well the title is a good start. Why that didn’t put me off before watching I have no idea, but I thought it can’t be nearly as bad as all that. Secondly, this movie is so pretentious and self involved it would not be out of place being read by some pasty white hipster in a cafe, as he pretended to be french even though he is actually from Iowa. That’s oddly specific. I’m not sure what this was based on (or if it was “original”) as I lost interest before we even got that far in, but it surely had to have been a short poem that liked to talk about how pretty it was.
Of course it’s not a total wash, there are some great opportunities to shout at the movie, kind of like the Seinfeld episode where Elaine shouts “You’re bald!!!” at George, except here you’re shouting “You’re dead!!!” at Lily. This is amusing for about the first 45 minutes, and that’s when the tedium sets in. We are then rescued however by the ghost of Polly, a wonderful apparition in a pretty dress that walks across the room with her feet facing forward and her face backwards. I couldn’t help but laugh, quite a lot because despite all the atmospheric intensity that hung over the screen like a pallid fog it was just bad, like Syfy original movie bad. At the moment of the greatest “fear” for Lily I just remember saying “Brace yourself…Ceiling Chair!!!”. I couldn’t take it seriously any longer.
The acting isn’t actually bad, and in fact for what they had to work with here I think the actors did well, giving everything they had to try and bring some life to this stillborn movie (ugh, now I feel dirty). Lily is an incredibly annoying character with all her wonderful insights but I can’t really fault the actor for that, she tried her best to make something good of this and succeeded at capturing the essence of Lily fully I believe. Sadly this just meant misery for the rest of us. The other characters are pretty much window dressing, with even Mrs. Blum only having a few lines and most of those being her shouting Polly. The trustee of the estate has a few lines, and I know he is a good actor, but the writing here managed to make even him seem like he was an amateur with little to no experience.
The pacing is a steady, plodding, never changing march from beginning to end with no break for any ups or downs. It was just one endlessly long atmospheric piece, like we are trapped inside a painting that just wants to tells us how insightful it is. Most of the time though all we get are long awkward pauses between Lilly and other people, Lilly and the TV, Lilly and the wall, Lilly and the doorway. In fact, if Lily isn’t giving a Socrates length speech about life and death she’s awkwardly staring at something with unbelievable fear in her eyes, mildew garnering the second most fear next to the ghost of Polly. I’m serious, if the movie didn’t tell me about a thousand times it was about death I would think it was a commercial about repairing and removing mildew damage to a wall and your things.
The ending circles back around to the beginning, actually giving me the only scare throughout the movie, I thought it was starting over and had to check the time to be sure it wasn’t. There is no resolution in the ending, no satisfaction and in fact we already knew exactly what was coming from the first five minutes of the movie. Sometimes even if you know the ending it can be an enjoyable ride, but without the ride and knowing the ending we just end up with so much flotsam. There’s not even a scare at the end for the new family, it’s just Lily talking (go figure) and a girl waking up to get a drink of water. Oh, and backwards walking Polly who’s still quite humorous. There’s no reasoning for why Polly died the way she died, what it meant or if it even mattered. And if I was supposed to draw my own conclusion from it it was so buried in there that I never found it, which is not a typical thing for me.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (have to keep checking that title to make sure it’s right) is a long winded, overly self obsessed hipster monologue about the imprint of death on a house. Nothing more and nothing less, except the extolling of how the living no longer have claim over a house after someone has died in it. It’s tedious, monotonous and just boring with the exception of the spoopy moments that were supposed to be “scary” but just couldn’t get there. Unless you plan to make it a drinking game where you drink every time you see a chair on the ceiling I would stay as far away from this not so pretty movie as you can. How it has the rating on Netflix that it does is beyond me, who is so desperate for a Halloween movie they would rate this a four star? If you watch it, watch another movie after to cleanse your palette, trust me you’ll need it.
Overall: 2.1/5 (genre)
6 thoughts on “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House”
Erm… the chair being hung upside down on peg rails is just a traditional Quaker way of storing furniture, brooms etc up off of the floor for ease of cleaning/space etc. It wasn’t supposed to be a feature of the film – just part of the period home decor.
I realize that the chair was intentionally, and realistically, hung upside down (though I didn’t know this was a traditional way). It was meant as a joke playing off the fact that this was supposed to be a horror movie, and furniture on the ceiling is a pretty common theme in horror films. But usually that sort of thing gets noticed.
I only just watched the film (and only once, not paying THAT much attention so sorry if I got it all wrong) but it seemed to me that the trustee was essentiel? In the death scene of Lily, she goes downstairs because of a loud knocking sound, and finds the boards of the wall have been removed. A ghost probably would not have to remove these boards to get through the wall. A human might knock at them to tear them down though, to implement a fright in someone (Lily). At first glance, when we see the reflection of someone in her glasses, I was sure it was the trustee of the estate. He could’ve been holding the hammer, which he used to tear down the wall. Mrs. Blum might have been aware of his way of killing people, telling Lily “the thing you all have in common is how pretty you are” or something like that. I haven’t quite thought about making all the pieces fit together yet, but I still think this may not be completely off the spot. Especially when we see the camera zooming in on him locking up the door in the end, letting us see the key tag saying “MASTER” on it.Is this a ridiculous theory?
*I meant to add “(…holding the hammer, which he used to tear down the wall) – this sight probably would’ve been enough to send Lily into such a fright that she’d have a heart attack, seeing the state she was already in.”
And thinking again I become more certain. The story about Polly which we see parallel to Lilys own story, is her imagination of it, playing at the same time as she reads the book. She keeps saying stuff about “not being able to see yourself” , not being able to see that she is already trapped in there – this is exactly what we see in the story of Polly – she is lead in the house by a man, but she is blindfolded, then he finally kills her with a hammer. Lily is also lead into the house by a man – the estate trustee with the master key – and she “cannot see” what is going on, she is as blindfolded in the house as Polly (so the story of Polly in Lilys imagination is Lily herself actually visualizing her own story without even realizing it – she does sense it though – hence the fear – this is what he does). He even gives her the card with a hammer on it when she wants the wall fixed.
And why does she say “just friends” to herself when he knocks on the door at some point? I never really got that. Maybe I should watch it again.
First I wanted to say thanks for the great comments, and apologize for not getting back on this sooner. I’ve been away from my blog for a bit due to life and all.
I don’t think I can accurately address the points you brought up now having been so long since I watched the movie, and so I think I will have to watch it again and add an edit section in the review to reply to your comments and any changes I might want to add.
Thanks again for the great comments.