Things Heard & Seen(Netflix)
Starring Amanda Seyfried and James Norton
Directed by Shari Springer Berman,Robert Pulcini
The victim, the cad and the victim card…In how many films would we get to see the pretty fragile heroine(this one is anorexic too, sticking her finger up her throat after a bite of a cake,etc) being led to her eerie death by the one whom she trusts the most, preferably in a large Gothic house which has seen better days?
Sigh. One more shiver giver about the lovely haunted heroine Catherine, played by Amanda Seyfried whom I will always remember singing and dancing to ABBA songs with Meryl Streep in Mama Mia. Ms Seyfried is evidently trying to escape her confectionary image and climb to a more serious-actress label. Which is fine. No harm in being ambitious(though I saw no signs of the same in the presentation).
But the material here is hardly conducive to histrionic explorations. The heroine has to act resigned(to a life in the countryside with her little daughter and her academic husband), scared(when the lamp in her daughter’s room acquires a life of its own), amused(when a new gal pal gives her gyan on how to keep husbands on a leash) and a little shocked(when she espies her husband pleasuring himself in the shower).
These stock responses apart, the plot serenades a density that it is incapable of shouldering.It is is left to that fine British actor James Norton to do all the heavy lifting in the skimpy screenplay which doesn’t really give any actor much weight to left. Wispy as hell, and just not crisp enough at the top , Things Heard & Seen gets by on Norton’s partially successful attempts to induce a sense of genuine creepiness into his evil character.
As the layers of George’s duplicity and subterfuge are laid open,in both his academic and domestic capacities, the narration gets somewhat interesting, only to collapse in a messy heap at the end .Also the idea that human beings can be far more diabolic than ghosts never attains an urgent currency in the plot. Norton’s performance remains more interesting than anything the ghosts do. And that’s pretty much a sign of failure for the film.
It is more commendable for what it promises that what is finally delivers. The scenic British countryside is captivating .At times I just wanted the characters to move out of camera range so I could see the mountains better.