I have heard myself say that a house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living. It can only be borrowed from the ghosts who have stayed behind.
Osgood Perkins’ I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House now sits comfortably in my top ten for 2016. It is a beautiful and haunting tone poem that takes the horror genre to new and exciting places.
Adopting the lyrical feel of a Malick film and throwing in a dash of Kubrick, Pretty Thing tells the tale of a hospice nurse named Lily, who is assigned to take care of a former author named Iris, who lives in a spooky old house that holds many secrets. You see, the house is haunted and shrouded in mystery. Lily scares easily, so as she creeps carefully around the premises, a palpable sense of dread and terror begins to build in both she and the audience.
This is basically the “story” of Pretty Thing in a nutshell. This is only the surface, as the rest of what we will see is a meditative, heavily atmospheric mood piece that leaves much to the individual imagination. Speaking of atmosphere, this is exactly what drives the film. The camera glides in and out of various rooms, Lily’s whispering voiceovers guiding us along the way, and as she makes discoveries, so do we. Ever so often, the twisted specter of a young woman named Polly makes an unexpected appearance, and as most of the mysteries are revealed, we will find that nearly all of them have to do with her unexplained disappearance.
Pretty Thing features an incredible performance from Ruth Wilson as Lily. She carries the entire film like a pro under Perkins’ direction, and it is Perkins who proves that he has a strong cinematic voice here. One can only look forward to his next project after this incredible sophomore effort.