The Pretty Thing That Haunts Me

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American moviemaking is all about satisfying the audience. Perhaps that’s why I was so thoroughly annoyed by “I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” when the end credits rolled. It was 2 a.m. Maybe I’d drifted off and missed something. I hit rewind. Nope. I hadn’t missed a thing.

Not usually creeped out by ghost or murder stories, I found myself checking all the doors. Then, I fell asleep cursing writer and director Osgood Perkins. I’d been lured in by his unsettling and repetitive dialogue. “The pretty thing you are looking at is me. Of this I am sure…Three days ago I turned 28 years old. I will never be 29 years old.” He was all style and zero substance.

Unanswered questions of what might, or might not be, a ghost story within a ghost story gnawed at me over the weekend. Was I bothered more by the non-linear format with no connected dots or was I bothered more by death itself?

Then, I remembered a college project – film as poetry. With my Super 8 camera (yes, I’m that old), I set about creating a gothic supernatural story. Candles flickering in darkened windows. Empty rooms with human shadows cast upon walls. A pack of wild dogs racing through Victorian graves and monuments. The latter was pure “luck” at Laurel Hill Cemetery. I never ran so fast in my life…backwards while holding the camera to capture it all. With no dialogue, I attempted to create rhythm through my editing with a thrift shop splicer. It ended up atmospheric and creepy and earned me an A. Just imagine if I’d had a theme.

Perkins did. And it worked. Not the way I expected or wanted. And that’s the art of it.

 

A Netflix Original Movie

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