Ebene Magazine – Flashback: The paranormal thriller ‘Things Heard & Seen’ does not keep its promise

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Elizabeth Brundage’s novel “All Things Cease to Appear” from 2016 is partly a ghost story, partly a mystery that takes place over several decades in and around a farmhouse in upstate New York, in which unimaginable tragedies occur again and again . The book offers an upscale, literary take on multiple genres, though its primary focus is less on crime and tension (although those elements are certainly there) and more on multiple women who have turned their lives upside down.

The movie version Things Heard & Seen limits that focus to one woman: Catherine Clare (Amanda Seyfried), who reluctantly left town and moved to the sticks with her husband, college professor George (James Norton) and their young daughter. As she meets her neighbors and learns about the sad history of her new town – and George spends more time flirting with female students than helping out at home – Catherine is inspired to change her lot, perhaps by giving up her marriage altogether .

The writer-director duo of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini inevitably rationalized Brundage’s multi-layered narrative with several generations. They tell the story more or less in a straight line and while they keep most of the major supporting characters – including one of George’s suspicious colleagues played by the great Rhea Seehorn – they don’t go as deep in their backstories.

This is no problem at first. « Things Heard & Seen » begins strong as a portrait of a seemingly perfect couple whose underlying weaknesses cause their household to collapse. This breakdown takes place against the backdrop of a highly stratified community where the working class locals struggle while the college kids and wealthy vacationers live like royalty.

But while the cast is great, the milieu is alive, the Images are polished and the atmosphere is effectively capricious, Things Heard & Seen cannot establish a connection on a visceral level. Catherine has some paranormal encounters at the farmhouse and hires a George Faculty expert (played by F. Murray Abraham) to investigate. but the spook hardly provokes chills. Later, when the region is rocked by a series of murders, the crimes happen too deep in the movie’s final act to create much action and suspense. (We also see them as engaged, which eliminates the whodunit factor.) By the time the film hits its poetic, elusive ending, “Things Heard & Seen” has lost most of its early promise and is frustrating become flat. The pieces from the novel Berman and Pulcini that were included in this film never quite fuse. However, the filmmakers produced a pretty compelling two-hour commercial for the book.

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Ebene Magazine – Flashback: The paranormal thriller ‘Things Heard & Seen’ does not keep its promise

Ref.: https://www.latimes.com

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