I am the pretty thing that lives in the house (2016, dir. Oz Perkins)
As Halloween is nearly upon us, it’s high time for a rummage around Netflix to find a suitable scary film. This rather clumsily-titled film attracted my attention as it starred one of my favourite actresses, Ruth Wilson (Luther, the Affair).
Against type, Wilson plays Lily a timid and nervous Hospice Nurse, who is hired to look after Iris Blum a near-senile and ailing famous horror writer (played by 1960s kitsch legend Paula Prentis). The old house is full of boxes, static-hidden televisions and stark featureless rooms, and before long the lines between reality and the fate of Polly, the lead character in Blum’s most famous book, start to become blurred.
I’m surprised that Lily didn’t turn tail and run away at the first creaking floorboard, as she readily admitted that she hadn’t read any of Blum’s books as they were too scary. Still, the film slowly ratchets up the tension with unusual camera angles and sparse use of music, as Lily uncovers the secrets of Polly, the house, and the maybe-true novel.
The film is virtually a single-handed effort from Wilson, who managed to elicit sympathy for a character we just want to tell to run away while she still can instead of poking around where she shouldn’t.
At times It does drift off into too many monologue musings (a convenient way of moving the plot along with so few characters), but the overall unsettling and minimalist nature of the film lingers in the mind well after the harrowing last scene.