There’s more going on than meets the eye in Things Heard and Seen which is more than your typical ghostly horror film. Creative couple, Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and George Claire (James Norton) uproot their life and move to New York when George is offered a job as a professor at a local college. The film quickly directs you to its bones as we spot shadows moving through rooms, lights flickering and toothbrushes coming to life, it’s obvious that this is a haunted house.
What I liked about this film is there’s more to it than just ghosts and quick scares. There’s a whole story going on here, making this more of a drama with horror elements. As George’s career flourishes as well as his social circle, Catherine begins to feel the loneliness of moving to a new city and being a full time Mum. Cracks appear in their relationship and George’s extra marital pursuit of Willis (Natalia Dyer) introduces us to the notion that he isn’t the good guy he’d have you believe. Furthermore, he makes Catherine feel like her experiences of the extra terrestrial variety are the results of loosing her mind.
The supporting cast are great and in various ways complete the story. F. Murray Abraham is a huge protagonist in the narrative as George’s boss and the person responsible for confirming that Catherine isn’t crazy – in fact he arranges a seance which also makes the film take a turn as we discover what the spirits are actually here for. On a side note, how huge are that guys hands!!! Rhea Seehorn as Justine increasingly adds pressure to a spiralling George and many events are a result of her actions. Alex Neustaedter and Jack Gore play brothers Eddie and Cole and Eddie in particular becomes a comfort for Catherine as things begin to unravel.
The supernatural elements build tension and initially will make you want to have that cushion ready just in case you need to hide your eyes. Once you discover what’s actually going on it kind of looses its fear factor. It isn’t far removed from many films we’ve watched before, but the reasoning for the spirits sticking around is very interesting. There are also moments of uncomfortable viewing as it explores eating disorders and a marriage which at times is abusive.
I found that the film really succeeds in holding your attention and builds momentum towards the end which unfortunately falls flat and does leave you disappointed. I’m not sure if that’s because the net is cast quite wide and it’s difficult to to pull everything back together or if it wanted to deliver a pondering message. There were some loose ends too and parts which could have been explored and explained a bit more. The relationship between Willis and Eddie is one of those. The aspects of religion included enhanced the film’s roots but the ending revolving around that just didn’t really pay off.
Disregard the ending and this is a good film with a great cast. It’s just a huge shame that you’re left feeling short changed.