31 October 2016 | Argemaluco
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House distills the components of the "haunted house" concept into something more refined and cerebral... almost poetic. Rejecting the classic tricks of the horror genre, director and screenwriter Oz Perkins focuses on the main character's delicate psychology, whose vulnerability becomes fertile ground on which the paranoia created by a supernatural presence seeking attention will flourish. Unfortunately, that elevated artistic ambition isn't translated on a particularly agile movie; on the opposite, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House feels occasionally frustrating and pretentious. Most of this film consists on cryptic monologues from the disembodied narrator, and scenes with the main character walking through the house, working at the kitchen, reading books or examining the mold forming on a wall. However, Perkins creates a tense atmosphere which makes even the most puerile scenes interesting... as long as we have the necessary patience to put up with the languid rhythm of the movie, and we don't expect constant shocks, digital apparitions or any of the other usual clichés of contemporary horror. And the reward for that patience is the narrative crumbs left by Perkins along the road, which were enough to keep me interested in the resolution of the big mystery. It's not a particularly complicated mystery, but its methodic development is simultaneously organic and intuitive. There are definitely answers to the multiple questions raised by this film... but the spectator needs to make an effort to find them. If that sounds interesting, you will probably appreciate the parsimonious pros of this film; if not, stay away from it and seek something more "normal" (I found Lights Out and The Conjuring 2 solid recent alternatives of supernatural horror). And well, I think anyone will be able to appreciate Julie Kirkwood's exceptional cinematography and the solid performances from Ruth Wilson, Lucy Boynton and Paula Prentiss. Thinking about it well, it might not be correct to describe I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House as a horror film. I think it's more appropriate to consider it an intimate drama about loneliness and regret, seasoned by slight supernatural touches. That seems to be Perkins' style: first, he defines the drama, and then, its consequences are explored... either in this life or in other one.