Netflix’s “Things Heard & Seen” proves mystifying and painstakingly intriguing, ending falls short

Amanda Seyfried chills viewers as Catherine Claire; her curiosity about the spirits that inhabit her house grows throughout the movie and eventually she is forced to face them.

Photo by Tallula Stvan '21

Amanda Seyfried chills viewers as Catherine Claire; her curiosity about the spirits that inhabit her house grows throughout the movie and eventually she is forced to face them.

Tallula Stvan ’21, Staff Writer

Blood drips down from the floorboards overhead onto a man’s car and smacks his cheek as he tilts his head to look up. Terrified, the man grabs his daughter and charges off the property, while crows caw in the distance.

“Things Heard & Seen,” on Netflix as of April 29, 2021, tells the story of professor George Claire (James Norton) and his wife Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) who move into a haunted house in Chosen, New York with their daughter in the 1980s. 

This show was based upon Elizabeth Brundage’s book “All Things Cease to Appear” from 2016. The spirit of the woman who had previously died in the house occupies the property, becoming a guardian angel. 

I think that Catherine’s character was well written, complimented by Amanda Seyfried’s compelling performance.  At first,  when the movie opens, she appears two-dimensional and unassuming, the way many female characters in movies are written. However, as the story progresses, she finds her strength in calling out men for their sexist and homophobic comments and not tolerating her cowardly husband’s manipulativeness and insensitive behavior. He gaslights Catherine about his own malicious actions, attempting to blame her assumptions about him on insanity caused by her bulimia. 

The viewer watches as both George and Catherine’s mental states deteriorate, first slowly, and then all at once. James Norton’s anger as he portrays George is frightening, especially in a scene where one of his students puts the wrong slide up on the projector, a seemingly simple mistake, but results in George storming into the aisles of his lecture hall.

Additionally, “Things Heard & Seen” is visually appealing; the costumes perfectly match the characters’ personalities and the setting, and the consistent soft lighting throughout the film emphasizes the moments of calm in between the suspenseful scenes.

I think that “Things Heard & Seen” is an impactful thriller in that there are a few twists that surprise you out of nowhere early in the film, making the viewer anxious in even the most mundane scenes of solely dialogue that is only necessary to move the plot along. Anything can happen at any moment.

“Anything can happen at any moment.””

— Tallula Stvan '21

There are no plot holes, and although the film moves quickly, the bigger events and minor plotlines form a cohesive story. I also appreciated the way that it starts more as a horror and then later leans more into the spiritual elements of the tale.

I would rate this Netflix original eight out of 10 stars and would definitely recommend watching it. However, it lost points due to the last 25 minutes of the movie. Finishing at the one hour and 41 minute mark, there is a scene that serves as a turning point in the plot and the rest of the movie pales in comparison. The writers did not resolve any of the loose ends, therefore it turns unnecessarily fantastical and overall is an unsatisfactory ending.