It’s hard to believe that Things Heard & Seen is actually made by the same husband-and-wife duo (Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman), who gave us the acclaimed comedy-drama American Splendor back in 2003.
Here, the duo took a break from their usual comedy/drama genre and explored a different genre for a change — one that involved the supernatural-horror element but with a mix of relationship drama.
Based on the novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, the story takes place in 1980 where we are introduced to a young, married couple (Amanda Seyfried’s Catherine Claire and James Norton’s George Claire) and their daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger). Her husband ends up securing a job as a professor teaching art history at a small college in the little town of Chosen, New York. Catherine, who’s been staying and working as an art restorer in Manhattan, has no choice but to reluctantly give up her career to move together from their city apartment to an old farmhouse.
Long story short, there’s something wrong with the old farmhouse. The kind where things that go bump in the night while George doesn’t turns out to be a good husband after all.
Things Heard & Seen works best when Berman and Pulcini touch on the relationship issue between Catherine and George, where the latter happens to be a cheater who sleeps around with one of the students (Natalia Dyer’s Willis). James Norton plays the role of a slimy husband well while Amanda Seyfried also deserves mention as the long-suffering wife, who has an anorexic problem.
But the film ultimately falters where it matters the most — the supernatural-horror story that feels neither intriguing nor scary. And while I appreciate Berman and Pulcini eschew the usual jump scares commonly associated with such a genre, the film just feels flat — both visually and thematically speaking — and spends too much time lingering around. Right down to a point where its 121-minute running time overstays its welcome long before the film reaches its disappointing conclusion.
Things Heard & Seen is currently streaming on Netflix.