Monday, June 4, 2018

I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE (2016) [Paul's Review]


I first watched IATPTTLITH in December 2017.  It is now halfway through 2018 and no review.  Joe and I went strong for two years, reviewing direct-to-streaming horror movies with gusto and verve and esprit.  And then IATPTTLITH happened.  Would this be the way the experiment of Rock, Paper, Hatchet ends?    


To be fair to myself, a lot of life has happened in the interim.  I sold my house.  I went to court and got a divorce.  I explored the world of dating apps and endlessly tweaked my profile.  I took selfies, dear reader, so many selfies.  I went on some bad dates.  I went on some good dates.  I went on a date for which I suggested we watch IATPTTLITH.  Game, I have not.  But fortunately for the review, and unfortunately for her, my date agreed.  The title of IATPTTLITH, she noted, was basically her tinder profile.

As tinder profiles go, the title of IATPTTLITH isn’t the worst.  But when the acronym of your title looks like the slobbering groan of a Lovecraftian eldritch horror, you might have too many words in there.  It will def get more swipes with something like: “Sexy, and owns a house.”  Or  just “sexy.” Or just “sex.” Or just an emoji of some kind of suggestive fruit.  Or no words at all with a half-naked selfie.  Or no picture and just “DTF ghosts.”  

Lily (Ruth Wilson) is a hospice nurse caring for an aging horror writer, Iris Blum.  Blum's house is haunted by a ghost named Polly.  Every once in a while Lily’s boss comes over and glares at Lily.  Those four are the whole cast.  Polly doesn’t talk because she’s a ghost.  Iris doesn’t talk because she’s old.  Lily’s boss only has a handful of minutes of screentime and he mainly glares.  So you’d think this would be a quiet movie without much of a script. In fact, even though there are only four characters, three of which are women, it doesn't even pass the Bechdel Test, amazingly. 
 
But that doesn't mean there's any shortage of talking.  The movie should have been called “I am the Chattering Thing Who Talks To Herself Constantly.”  Lily has the inner monologue of a wordy goth emo creative writing major and the outer monologue of a 19th century schoolmarm.  Inside her head, she says things like: “The house that holds a seat for the memory of a death—the staying place of a rotted ghost.”  Outside her head, she says, “heavens to Betsy” and calls herself a “silly billy.” 
 
IATPTTLITH is weirdly disappointing.  It seems to do everything I want out of horror movie.  It’s obscure and atmospheric and takes its time.  Maybe too much time.  It doesn’t give out all of the answers.  It has a ghost whose feet are on backwards.  It actually spends time on the writing, which has some great lines like: “I left the world just as I came into it, wearing nothing but blood.” But it is neither scary nor fun.  It certainly isn’t fun to write about.

So maybe I’ll just backpedal into plot summary like my feet were headed that way.  Lily comes to the house.  Her interior monologue says something about always wearing white to comfort her guests while the darkness closes in on them like claws.  This might not be the healthiest attitude for a hospice nurse.


She meets Iris.  Iris looks at Lily the way I looked at the task of writing this review.



Lily calls her friend, the phone is yanked out of her hand by a supernatural force.  Lily picks up the phone.  Her friend is still on the line.  They finish their conversation.

Lily discovers black mold in the hallway.  She calls someone to come fix it.

Lily discovers a television.  She talks to it (of course she does).  But it is broken.  Later on, it is fixed. 
 
Lily is worried because Iris keeps calling her Polly.  Polly is the name of a character in one of Iris’s books, The Lady In the Walls.  Apparently, Polly, in the book, is a ghost who tells Iris her story.  But Polly, the ghost, can’t remember how it ends.  So Iris leaves off the ending to her book as well, saying that it might be disappointing but it is “true to her subject.”  This is a big Red Flag.  This sounds like a defense in advance of a criticism.  In rhetoric, it’s called procatalepsis.  It’s when a dating profile reads:  “I talk to myself, but in a quirky fun pixie dream girl way, definitely NOT in a creepy anachronistic overly mannered sort of way.”  

Anyway, we get it, if the ending of the movie doesn’t give us answers, it’s on us because WE WERE WARNED.

So Polly turns out to be a real ghost who told Iris her incomplete and disappointing story of being murdered by her husband in the house.  She walks around backwards for some metaphorical reason.  Lily sees that Polly is literally The Lady in The Walls in that her corpse was shut up in the walls and miraculously decomposed there without anyone smelling her.  This accounts for the mold in some way.  We don’t meet the plumber, but his line would have been: “You’ve got a corpse next to your pipes.  That ain’t code.  You’ll want to take that out before the darkness closes in on you like a claw.”

Lily dies of fright.  Iris dies of old age.  Polly remains dead.  And in the final scene of the movie we see that all three now get to haunt the house like spectral golden girls, hanging out, thanking each other for being a friend.  Episode idea: the three ghosts put up profiles on Tinder for ghosts (Restless Spirits? Haunter?  Moaner?) only to discover by the end of the episode that they’re all dating the same gentleman ghost.  I am the pretty thing that lives in the house!  No, I am!  No.  Ladies.  We are.  Group hug.  But then their arms go right through each other because they’re ghosts!  They all have a good laugh, such silly billies!  Cue credits.
      
Questions for Joe:
1. At several points in the movie, the camera focuses on a rug that folds at the corner.  Is this symbolism?  Or just a bad purchase off overstock.com?

JD: You assume that Lily dies of fright, but if Polynesia is any indication, we may never see what kills Lily. UNLESS WE DO and it's the CORNER OF THE RUG. And it's been saying to itself through the whole movie "I am the pretty thing that lives in the house, also watch that cor - "

BANG CRASH AAAAAAAAAAGH!


2. What’s worse to have in your house, a ghost who can’t remember what she’s doing there or black mold?

JD: We've watched a lot of movies with a lot of ghosts, and Polly is definitely the best looking one by a mile. Feet on backward? So she's terrible at dancing, that's a relief to most guys. But, she's so good looking that you'd wonder if she's even real, or a fake account intended to convince people that hot women can't find dates. Like, if someone told you "There's a ghost in this house, a SEXY ghost." Would you believe that? You'd be like "Bullshit, there's probably black mold in this house." What I'm saying is that there are no hot ghosts, and you're just getting catfished by mold.

3. Lily almost got married, she tells us, but then she didn’t.  What do you suppose went wrong?

JD: *Swipes left*

4. What was special about this movie that it almost killed Rock, Paper, Hatchet?  

JD: You know the part in Anchor Man after Ron Burgundy hits rock bottom and eats poop but then he's called to do a broadcast and he's like "Where is my news team" and they're like "We've been here the whole time, man." Well, we're both Ron Burgundy and this movie was poop, but I'm here for you, man.  

No comments:

Post a Comment