Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Horror Film Spotlight: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

We watch movies for different reasons—sometimes to go on a journey, sometimes to fall in love, and sometimes to scare our pants off. Horror Film Spotlight focuses on the ones that keep us up at night, whether they star restless ghosts or psychotic ax murderers. Some are spooky and some are gory, but they’re all full of that shadow-in-the-doorway, voice-in-the-dark sense that something’s just not quite right. And what’s scarier than that?



Meet Lily Saylor. She’s a shy, intensely awkward, and easily frightened nurse who has accepted what is possibly the worst job for an awkward and easily frightened nurse: she works as a live-in caretaker to a long-retired author of ghost stories. The author, Iris Blum, insists on calling Lily “Polly,” a quirk that seems more sinister once Lily discovers that Polly is the protagonist of Iris’s best-known book, The Lady in the Walls. In fact, Iris claimed that Polly was not only a real person, but a ghost who haunted (and still haunts) her house. To protect her sanity, if nothing else, Lily refuses to believe that Iris’s story is anything but fiction. After all, she and the old woman live alone in the house, often going without visitors for months at a time. The idea that someone—or something—else has been watching them is more than Lily can bear.


Why You Should Watch It

Okay, here’s the thing: this film isn’t for everyone. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House isn’t so much terrifying as it is unsettling. From the moment Lily appears onscreen, it’s obvious that something about her is just a tad bit off. Maybe it’s that she always wears white. Maybe it’s that she speaks so slowly and stiltedly that you’d think she was reading her lines out of a book. Who knows? The film is an eighty-seven-minute-long exercise in building up a mood that doesn’t necessarily answer the questions it raises. Why, exactly, did Polly die? For that matter, why did she decide to tell her story to Iris, and why does Iris mistake Lily for her? (Iris is an old woman who could simply be suffering from dementia, but is something stranger going on there?) If you’re looking for straight answers, skip this one. If, on the other hand, you like your ghost stories slow, stately, and ambiguously resolved, why not give it a try?

It is a terrible thing to look at oneself and to all the while see nothing.

Have you seen I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House? What did you think?


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