Jesus christ! This certainly was an experience! I have been on the roller coaster ride from hell these past couple of weeks with my horror stories. First American Horror Story: Roanoke and now this thing! This is one of those rare movies that is so hard to judge because of the fact that the things that they do well, they do REALLY WELL! I’m talking award-winning levels of good. But the things they do bad… THEY ARE FUCKING PAINFUL! While I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House has great cinematography and a great actress, it is completely buried by its terrible dialogue and atrocious “ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS” pretentious art house garbage.
The story is about Lily (Ruth Wilson). She is a young, yet rather matronly woman who has decided to take up the job of living and caring for famous author Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss) in her final days. Lily quickly finds it odd that Mrs. Blum will only call her Polly after the character in one of her books, Polly Parsons (Lucy Boynton). After forcing her way through the book, she learns that Polly was a real person who lived in the house and potentially died in the house. Which could potentially mean that the house is haunted by Polly’s spirit.
Ruth Wilson is Great
Ruth Wilson is the star of this movie and, thanks to her, carries most of it from being completely unwatchable to “at least there was some good moments.” Wilson has to force her way through some rough dialogue, but everything she says is done with a smart and deliberate hand. Lily comes across as a young, but somewhat matronly woman. She definitely feels sheltered through most of her life and the crisis of her failed marriage is something that always hangs in the background but never really takes the forefront.
She delivers a lot of these forced lines with such power that you sometimes forget that the line has no value or that the exposition was painfully rushed. There are plenty of problems with this movie, but Ruth Wilson is certainly not one of them.
The Cinematography, Though Pretentious, is REALLY Good
Oh, I am going to tear this movie a new asshole for being pretentious art house garbage here in a second. But what I cannot deny… Osgood Perkins sure does know how to shoot. The shots in this movie are good. They are REALLY good. All of the shots are clearly meant to be deliberate and each item in the screen is meant to convey something or add to the atmosphere. There are forced focus shots that accentuate each detail of the screen which is definitely done by a well crafted hand. I can say things for days about the forced symbolism, but there is one thing that I cannot deny. Perkins was certainly top of his class when it came to cinematography and practical effects.
The Writing is Terrible
The writing is awful… Just… Just so fucking awful. I have to give Ruth Wilson some extra credit. She does a great job acting her way through some hack fucking writing and meandering monologues that have no intrinsic value to them. Here is a lesson for our artsy directors, writers, and producers out there. You have to make things feel organic. You can’t just put something in a fucking monologue and say that it is artistic.
Exposition lines like the fact that Lily was apart of a failed marriage are just clumsily thrown onto the screen during a phone conversation with no tact or thought for organic conversation. The monologues meander for fucking hours on end and have nothing worth while to say! They aren’t progressing the plot and they do nothing for the characters development. You, as a viewer, are supposed to be intrigued by Ruth Wilson’s raw delivery so much that you are supposed to forget that she has absolutely nothing worth while to say. On another note, I cannot believe that we are in 2016 and we still have the “No Whammys! No Whammys! No Whammys! STOP” line. Press Your Luck has been dead since its anemic remake in the early 2000’s. Will anyone even get that reference now that isn’t over the age of 30? Will anyone care?
The point is that there is clearly something someone is trying to do here. They want their monologues to have weight, they want the viewer to be intrigued by what is going on around them… The problem is that none of it works. It just comes across as painfully forced and, at the end of the day, pointless.
Art-House Pretentious Bullshit
Let this be a lesson to any art-house directors who want to make their thought-provoking visual marvel. You can’t just show us something that stands out and call it symbolism. You cannot just show an out of focus visual of a woman and then think that it means anything at all. If you want symbolism, YOU HAVE TO FUCKING EARN IT!
This movie doesn’t earn anything. Most of this movie is essentially the director, writer, and/or producer screaming in our ear: “ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! Look at these white walls! Why is her outfit so white and striking? There is a chair on the ceiling! What could that mean?! Why is this chair in focus and the rest of the world isn’t?! Why is this woman slowly walking forward?! ASK ME WHAT IT MEANS! I am such a deep, thought-provoking, and artistic filmmaker!”
I get it, artistic filmmakers want to make artistic movies. That is fine. Film is an art form and it takes a skilled hand to find that balance between art, story, and entertainment. But you cannot just show a well shot image of a television and say that it is impactful. You cannot show a blurred image of a woman and say that it has some sort of deep meaning. Just because the majority of your movie is dialogue does not make it witty or intriguing. Directors like Stanley Kubrick earned their symbolic moments. Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, Dario Argento, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, and so forth. These directors earned their symbolic and artistic moments in their movies. This movie simply does not! It merely shows us well framed shots, forced focus perspectives, and deliberately placed items and then expects us to be intrigued by the fact that it is there! Overall, what it comes down to is our director and writer, Osgood Perkins, who knows how to point a camera. The problem is that he doesn’t know anything about the meaning of their actions.
I have no moral quandaries scoring this movie low. It does hurt, because there are some good things in this movie. The shots are done by someone who clearly has a great cinematic eye and Ruth Wilson is rock solid in her performance.
But at the end of the day, the dialogue is so painfully forced and the pretentious and self-aggrandized attitude of the movies creators makes you want to slam your head on a table. Ultimately, this movie is going to go down as a well shot, well acted, and utterly forgettable pretentious horror film.
Final Score 2/5
Thank you for reading and please like and subscribe for more from me. Next up I am going to have Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as well as the new Kevin James movie to rip apart.