Amanda Seyfried goes from Oscar nomination to Netflix abomination in this new thriller about a cheating husband (James Norton) and a bulimic wife (that’s the extent of their characterisation) moving into a haunted house.
Set in 1980, this adaptation of Elizabeth Brundage’s All Things Cease to Appear has some early nods to Don’t Look Now before abandoning any psychological interest for the usual haunted house tropes (rocking chairs, spooky birds etc.) and a marital drama almost entirely divorced from the supernatural storyline. The film flits gracelessly between the two disconnected stories for two hours, going through the motions so thoroughly that it soon runs out of clichés and starts repeating itself.
Things Heard & Seen‘s strict yet unnecessary adherence to generic convention includes a superfluous seance that does nothing to advance the plot, and is clearly only there because it’s the kind of scene you get in a ghost story. This comes after F. Murray Abraham enters the house, immediately identifies the nature of the haunting and insists that “there are no coincidences,” despite these being the film’s only mode of plot development.
Like the streamer’s other recent neo-Gothic adaptation Rebecca, the glossy production values cannot mask the absence of eeriness or ambiguity – it’s all Netflix and no chill. Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s perfunctory direction neglects the creeping atmospherics that are the foundations of a haunted house movie, while the home is illuminated by candles for no other reason than it runs on gaslighting.
The cast look faintly embarrassed by the hack material, and Seyfried does her level best with scenes where she’s startled by an electric toothbrush and says things like: “So much death in my house!” Berman and Pulcini would have been better off with a camper tone, or by ditching the supernatural elements altogether and concentrating their efforts on the psycho husband plot. Instead we get two movies, neither of which are any good – not so much Don’t Look Now as Don’t Watch Ever.