Original Title: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
Director: Oz Perkins
09.12.2019: This review was first published in 01.04.2018 is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
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I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, I’m not talking about myself, that’s the title of the second movie directed by Oz Perkins, released in 2016. It’s a very long title, so for now on, I will call it only Pretty.
An easy-to-scare nurse is hired to take care of an elderly mystery author living her final days in an old country house with mysteries of its own.
Oz Perkins is the son of Anthony Perkins, the actor who portrayed Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho from 1960. His grandfather Osgood was also an actor, he had a successful career in Broadway and starring in movies like the original Scarface from 1932.
Perkins began his career as an actor like his father and grandfather, but mostly in minor roles. In 2015 was released the first movie he directed, February also known as The Blackcoat’s Daughter and the next year, Pretty.
Both the movies were also written by Perkins. For now, let’s talk only about Pretty.
Ruth Wilson plays Lily, a young and naive nurse hired to take care of Iris Blum, played by Paula Prentiss, an elderly mystery author with dementia who chose to live the remaining time she has in her remote country home.
Iris always calls Lily the wrong name, calling her Polly, the name of the main character in her most popular book. Because of that, Lily becomes interested in the book and overcomes her fear of mystery stories to start reading it.
In the early 19th Century Polly, played by the brilliant Lucy Boynton, lived with her husband in the same house as Lily is taking care of Iris in the present, and the novel describes her horrible fate.
I didn’t like it.
Well, I didn’t like it.
I discovered Pretty in some random list of movies, it was available on Netflix and was an obscure horror movie, so I thought it could be interesting. And it was a valid experience even though I didn’t like it at the end.
Pretty is a beautiful movie to look at, very well directed and with great cinematography and lighting, making so we can see everything, even when we’re in dark ambient. That way, the film’s creepy imagery has a better impact.
The original review was published on the blog on the first of April 2018, since then, I watched the WAY better February, Perkins’ directorial debut, so now I can safely say that Perkins knows how to do creepy scenes.
Unfortunately, Pretty is too weak in every other aspect and now that I watched February, the comparison is inevitable. While February was a good idea that worked as a movie, Pretty did not.
Ruth Wilson was 34 at the time the movie was released and could easily say she was in her mid 40’s, but the character was supposed to be 28. It should not matter, but her youth and naivety is a defining characteristic of the plot.
Nothing happens in the movie until it does, with no increasing tension, no development, nothing significant at all in the past or present. It’s funny because you can see the movie is getting to the end but nothing happened and you are left thinking “that’s all?”.
We can see the movie has deep roots in mystery literature. Not just because it has a mystery author, but because of the narration, the pace, everything feels like the work of a mystery writer.
Edgar Allan Poe is easily my favorite author, I’ve watched lots of movies inspired by his stories. Pretty reminds me of some of his works a little, but it seems like it did not translate well to the screen, maybe it would work better as a short story.
It is not as atrocious as the 2012 series The Following, with Kevin Bacon but is not as near as good as most of Roger Corman’s adaptations of Poe’s work. Pretty is very gorgeous in appearance, but its book-like style and lack of magnitude didn’t captivate me much, so my verdict is 4 Moons.
Since I’m saying how beautiful this movie is, I decided to put here a little gallery to express what I mean.