Horror Movie Review: Things Heard & Seen

Things Heard & Seen is a 2021 American horror thriller film written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. It stars Amanda Seyfried and James Norton. It was digitally released on April 29, 2021, on Netflix.

In 1979, Catherine Clare, an art restorer lives in Manhattan with her husband George and daughter Franny. When George lands a job teaching art history at a college, the family moves into a large farm house in Chosen, New York.

Catherine feels isolated in the house. She finds a Bible tracking the deaths of the previous owners, and sees names scratched out, marked “Damned”. She sees strange lights leading her to an antique ring, which she begins wearing. Franny feels a ghostly presence and insists on sleeping in her parents’ room. Catherine employs brothers Eddie and Cole Lucks as farm hands, while George starts an affair with Willis, a female student.

George’s colleague Justine Sokolov invites him and Catherine to dinner. She and Catherine become friends. On the way back home, George acts erratically, leading to him and Catherine fighting. George invites Floyd DeBeers, the department head, home. Floyd also feels the presence of a soul. He assures Catherine that the spirit is benevolent and offers to hold a séance.George and Catherine throw a party and invite neighbours and George’s colleagues. During the party, Catherine finds out the previous owners were Eddie and Cole’s parents, and that their father killed their mother, Ella and himself. Later, Catherine confronts George about the house’s origins. As they argue, a radio begins playing, only stopping when George destroys it. Catherine asks George to take Franny to his parents’ house.

While George is gone, Catherine and Floyd hold a séance. They see the ghost of Ella. Floyd tells Catherine there is another spirit in the house, and that Catherine should be careful until it is revealed. George begins hearing voices from the other spirit. Catherine discovers George’s affair, and starts one with Eddie. Catherine learns paintings George claimed were his work were painted by his cousin, who drowned in a boating accident. On a class trip, Justine overhears a conversation between George and his dissertation advisor, who asks how he was hired without a recommendation letter. The next day, Floyd confronts George, who admits to it and schedules a meeting to explain the situation. On a boat ride, George unsuccessfully dissuades Floyd from reporting him. George returns completely soaked.

Are they right? Does evil attract evil spirits or is George acting on his own accord? Well… who knows, honestly. This movie doesn’t answer that at all!

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If you want a coherent film that has a real ending then don’t look here. Things Heard & Seen is one of those movies that tries to tell too many stories at once without telling even one successfully. You have a cheating storyline that goes nowhere, an eating disorder storyline that means nothing – in fact, it glorifies eating disorders because she’s unaffected by it and it’s unresolved. She never gets to recover or address it properly – and countless other characters and plotlines that ultimately never tie into anything and just stop dead with a sudden ending that makes no sense.

Things Heard & Seen is predictable as hell. Calling it a rip off of The Amityville Horror isn’t an understatement. There’s being inspired by and then there’s just essentially making the same film. All they were missing was a dog. A man called George moves to a country house by the water where the previous family’s father went crazy and killed his family. The current father then gets influenced by ghosts and uses an axe to carry out his own murder. Which movie am I talking about here?

Everyone acts well enough, George is especially great and does what he can with his “evil husband” trope, you know the one where they have absolutely no dimensions and just want to cheat, and argue and be absent then murder their family out of nowhere… Maybe try giving him some kind of motive for being such a conniving, lying bastard? The only two likeable characters are the brothers, and they’re barely in it (when you painting that house, boys?).

The gore is non-existent, there’s one scene at the end but it pans away so we see nothing. Additionally, the CGI is bad. The ghost storyline falls completely flat because not only are they powerless, they’re also completely useless. They don’t add to the story at all. After they see physical proof of one at a séance it’s literally never mentioned again!

Overall, don’t waste your time. Things Heard & Seen is well shot and had potential to do something different but didn’t. It’s not scary, it’s too long. It’s a nonsensical movie where nothing means anything and I guess George is off to join Dexter in lumberjack land?




Things Heard & Seen
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