My first non-midnight screening of this year's TIFF was Osgood Perkins' newest I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House aka The Movie With the Ridiculously Long Title.
A hospice nurse (Ruth Wilson) takes a job caring for an elderly author (Paula Prentiss) only to find the house is haunted.
As evidenced in his previous film February – now known as The Blackcoat's Daughter – Osgood Perkins' sensibilities lie with an older era of cinema. He exists in a place where films took their time, lingered on shadows and cricked their ears at the sounds in the walls. That is why I feel very few people will have the patience for this effort. Programmer Colin Geddes used the word “literary” to describe it and I think that was apt, as history and the written word played a large part in the story.
|Ruth Wilson as Lily in I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.|
Regrettably, much like what I said of Blair Witch, the genre has moved on, for better or worse, from this kind of filmmaking. The pace and payoff were not in-your-face and Perkins' interpretation of the ghost was more A&E than MTV. That said, I'm grateful that at least Perkins has a voice. Pretty Thing is not insipid emulation. We have titles like last year's Darling if that's your bag. Actually, these two titles share very little, I just wanted to reiterate how much of a garbage pile that movie was.
As for me, I think February had more to offer. I do have to say thank God for Ruth Wilson though, as her awkward and skittish, yet endearing character, was easy for me to get behind when she used phrases like “silly billy” and “heavens to Betsy.” Since there really wasn't much else going on here, I was glad to have something to latch onto. Although, I was admittedly intrigued by the philosophy of the piece that you cannot own a house that suffered a death in it, only borrow it.
|Director Osgood Perkins|
Overall, I think I appreciated Pretty Thing more than I liked it. It's probably not a film I would ever revisit, but I still think it was a competently told haunted house tale.