Things Heard and Seen is now on Netflix! After finding out some secrets about this film from our exclusive interview with its filmmakers, I’m sure that your experience with this fascinating and different story was even more fun and exciting. Now is the time to analyze what Things Heard and Seen made us feel.
Here we go!
This story is fascinating and has great potential. It is based on the book All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. I have to confess that I didn’t read the book before watching the movie so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. That is a good thing because it is special to enjoy the story, the characters for the first time, not having any idea what is going to happen …
But it also has a bad part and it is precisely that you don’t know what is going to happen so perhaps, when you actually see the story on your screen, you expected something different that what ended up happening. That is, you create expectations that may not coincide with reality. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be bad.
This is what happened to me with Things Heard and Seen. I had not read the book so my first contact with these characters was the movie. At first, everything seems normal. George and Catherine, along with their little girl Franny, a young family, move to a small community because he got a new job at the local high school. But we soon find out that nothing is what it seems. The first sign is that Catherine suffers from anorexia.
They don’t focus too much on why or when it started, but when we got to know George, we started to understand. He is not the perfect husband that everyone thinks. He cheats on his wife at the first chance – and we all know it’s not the first time – and, of course, like any toxic man and sexual predator, he makes fun of women’s bodies. So we understand that Catherine feels even more pressure to have the perfect figure
However, we believe that it is a missed opportunity not to give her a space to explain what is happening here because it would give more depth to the character of Catherine and send a powerful and much needed message. Anorexia shouldn’t go unnoticed. And neither should the way George cheats on his wife because she sees him and does… nothing.
In fact, I thought that even if she didn’t face it – but I would have faced it and told him to go to hell – she was going to get carried away with her neighbor, a man she likes and is trying to get away from because there is a mutual attraction there… but, despite discovering this truth, does she takes time to live what she is feeling with him, to let herself be carried away with a man who truly values her? No.
In fact, she is somewhat busy with the house they live in. She feels a presence and, although at first it scares her, later it reassures her, she feels protected, cared for. As Catherine unravels the story linked to that ghost, she discovers that her purpose is precisely to help and protect her. From George.
That ghost woman trapped in that house was murdered by her husband and she wants to prevent the same from happening to Catherine. At first it’s… weird because we didn’t think of George as a murderer. We hated him from the moment we saw how he treated Catherine, that he did not respect or value her and that he did not take into account her wishes, her dreams, or her desires, she had to be simply the charming complement to show off to his work partners.
So we knew that he was a sexist pig, asshole, bastard and everything horrible that you can think of but… we did not imagine that he was a murderer. But he is. Throughout the film, he becomes increasingly violent and we discover that George is a sexual predator who takes advantage of young women, harasses them and causes them to fall into his hands and when his lies start to be discovered, he doesn’t hesitate to kill so that he isn’t discovered. Only Catherine knows he did. She just knows. And she faces him.
This is where things really cool down for us with this movie. All the time, we thought that the ghost was haunting Catherine and her house to protect her from having the same fate as her, in fact, it protects her from him on several occasions but the end of this story is… anticlimactic.
In the end, George hacks Catherine to death and the ghost is unable to help her. And we have to say: WTF?! Wasn’t the whole movie about history not repeating itself? Don’t get us wrong, the final scene in which George is trapped by his remorse and guilt for what he has done, by his demons and they close with that allegorical picture of hell in which he has gotten himself into, is very poetic.
But we believe that this was not what the film was asking for. I think the movie needed something much more explicit, it needed to break the circle, for Catherine to be saved and for us to see George punished for all his crimes. After that, yes, seeing him consume himself inside would have been very gratifying. However, with that ending, it feels… insufficient. We want more. We needed more. We deserved more.
We already had some problems regarding the development of the film because it did not deal in depth with some important problems such as the abusive and toxic relationship of the protagonists or Catherine’s anorexia problems, but that ending …
I think the ideal ending would have been for the ghost to have helped Catherine and together, they would have been able to kick that pig’s ass and she would have been happy starting over with her daughter, while that murderer rots in jail. Thus, we would have seen a psychological horror film in which the viewer, despite some mistakes, is satisfied. It has closure and a sense of justice.
But this ending leaves us totally in the middle because we are not seeing a psychological thriller, nor a drama (they should have focused more on Catherine’s anorexia and abusive relationship for it to be) nor a horror movie. It’s like a mixture of the three things and it never knows what it wants to be.
That is why we were talking about expectations. Someone reading the book will surely be happy in the brilliant way it is adapted and would not expect anything more than what happens in the book. While for viewers who have not read the book, I think the film creates expectations that later doesn’t meet.
In short, I would recommend this film for fans of the book who know exactly what they are going to see … but not for those who do not know anything because surely the film will build expectations that will not be satisfied.