Movie Review: I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House

I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House

I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House

Creepy tales about ghosts and murder probably aren’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future, but it’s not like you haven’t heard it all before. A certain spirit refuses to leave the house, they were likely beaten in by a loved one and the poor saps who happen to own the house now have to deal with the aftermath. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s the most common story arc you’ll get in a paranormal tale of restless spirits. On that note, I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House doesn’t break very many of the aforementioned tropes, but it’s hard to argue against how nice it looks along the way.

I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House is a Netflix exclusive suspense film. Lily (Ruth Wilson) has recently moved into the house of Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss), a former author who has become bedridden and senile over the years, in order to tend to her needs. However, the more time Lily spends in Blum’s house, the more she begins to realize things are amiss. From random shadows coming out of nowhere to a mysterious past that could explain the paranormal events, Lily may have gotten more than she bargained for in signing up for hospice care.

What I especially appreciated about this feature is its atmosphere. Not that the cinematography and color tone are completely excellent throughout, but the quirky performances of the cast help this piece stand out in the flood of Netflix horror flicks. The slow, building pace of the narrative reminded me of the kind of tales you’d read around a campfire late at night, put into feature film form. It’s mostly leisurely rising action that ultimately leads to a tense climax towards the conclusion. Backed by a mysterious tale of an 1800s couple, who had built the house together then mysteriously vanished, I Am the Pretty Thing… makes for a picture perfect example of what a campfire story would feel like if it was stretched to the hour and a half mark and popped on a screen.

That being said, you may recall that many of your childhood campfire tales weren’t all that original or great in the grand scheme of things, and this is where I Am the Pretty Thing… falters. This movie can be extremely slow. Those looking for a scare a minute flick definitely won’t find it here. It’s more of an experience in terms of the film-making itself, and the oddities of the in-flick characters and environment, than a captivating tale that would grab anyone and everyone. In fact, this movie will outright bore some people to be done with it in a matter of minutes. I Am the Pretty Thing… isn’t really designed to be accessible by the entire audience of Netflix subscribers. Rather, it’s built for a certain niche of moviegoers who want to hearken back to the days of David Lynch pieces like Twin Peaks. But even then, this movie may only appeal to half of the Lynch audience as well, since I can envision a good number of watchers being  turned off by the lack of stride in originality.

I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House isn’t really something I would re-watch. In fact, it’s a movie I doubt will stick with many horror fans looking for the suspense, thrills and gore that’s become a staple of modern day fright flicks. However, there is definitely an audience for slow-building, contemplative ghost tales that focus on the quirks of its leading characters. And even if the narrative doesn’t break any boundaries in its rather serviceable story, it still ultimately makes for an interesting enough late night Netflix escape.

Rating: 6/10

​Donald Strohman is a Pennsylvania State University film graduate currently residing in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Before being a part of The Young Folks team, he contributed to GameDeck and the satire website The Black Sheep. He also writes for the game journalism site GameSkinny. When he's not trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming the "Hash Slinging Slasher", Donald enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and writing; sometimes all at once.
  • Sequel62

    This is a pretty good synopsis of the problems that afflict a certain genre of film. But Idisagree that the film was harmed by the inherent weaknesses of the haunted house genre. To me, it transcended those.

    What I found most original about this story was the fact that Lily was so intent on rejecting evidence that something was amiss, and yet at the same time so clearly predisposed to over-react to any proof of such a problem. That was the see-saw proposition that kept the whole story going until its strange denouement.

    Usually, the genre’s principle character is “Sweet Polly Purebread”, who is seeking external rescue from the encroaching menace. In this case, Lily is actually rejecting the roll of Polly, leading the audience to believe that the threat is probably coming entirely from outside herself. That tension is even harder for the viewer to escape once the matter has been “resolved”.

    It was beautifully and masterfully done.