American Gothic: A I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House review.


Directed by: Oz Perkins.

Starring: Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban.

Those who know me know I am a horror fan, particularly ghost stories. You can not beat a good ghost story, something that taps into our primal fear of our own dwindling mortality and the fear of the unknown. I am particularly happy when a film creeps up, no pun intended, on me from seemingly out of nowhere to surprise and enthral. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House does just that.

Lily is a hospice nurse sent to the remote New England home of ailing author Iris Bloom to provide care for her. After living in the house for some time, Lily becomes increasingly aware of a presence other than her and Iris.

I Am The Pretty Thing is gothic horror deftly delivered. Slow, queasy unease is mounted and achieved through the sparse white environment of the house, a place that feels a little off kilter and you can’t quite place why, is it the unaccountable chair that hangs upside down without explanation in the kitchen? A surreal image that isn’t noticed immediately but when it is, you will feel uneasy that you didn’t spot it sooner. It doesn’t need to be explained, it does its job of making this place seem odd and detached from the world. A feeling of dread permeates the film, Is it through lingering wide shots encouraging us to study the frame for that which isn’t there? The fact that author Iris believes Lily is an ill fated character from one of her books? The stabbing, churning score? The surreal dreamlike, almost Lynchian tone of some of the scenes of the film? It is all these thing wrapped into a glorious gloomy whole that make this film work.

Ruth Wilson delivers a fine performance as the perpetually on edge Lily, a woman so wound tight she’d jump at her own shadow. Slowly coming to the realisation that not all is well in the house she is residing, we feel that encroaching dread with her, we are just as party to it as she. A unnerving performance is also given by Paula Prentiss as the author, is the belief that Lily one of her character simply her dementia or is there something else to it? A performance that brings up all the right questions a ghost story should.

If you are a fan of horror, particularly ghost stories I would strongly advise you to check this film out. It’s surreal, chilling and throughly captivating. Highly recommended.

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House is available to stream on Netflix.

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