Amanda Seyfried is plagued by ghosts of the past in “Things Heard & Seen”
In this eerie episode of “House Hunters Renovation” – also called “Things Heard & Seen” (starting today on Netflix) – the pretty young couple Catherine (newly nominated Oscar nominee Amanda Seyfried) and George (James Norton) find a dairy farm in need of renovation in the Hudson Valley with a lot of potential. But there is a problem. Not a cracked foundation or mold in the floor beams, mind you. Rather, it is a spirit.
Lights flicker ominously, Catherine listens to piano music and smells car exhaust fumes, and her daughter reports seeing a woman in her bedroom. We in the audience also saw the woman, because the film by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini wants us to know that what is happening is real. There is definitely a spirit floating in the atmosphere of the house, either threatening or simply restless.
Based on the novel “All Things Cease to Appear” by Elizabeth Brundage, the film is full of history and mysticism. George is a professor of art history, his colleague Floyd (F. Murray Abraham) hosts séances with a group of locals who adhere to the faith of Emanuel Swedenborg, a theologian who wrote about heaven and hell, angels and the transition between life and death. In addition, the theory is supported by the history of the house of George and Catherine, which is discovered with the help of photos, books and microfiches. (The film is set in 1979/1980.)
Amanda Seyfried as Catherine in “Things Heard & Seen”
“Things Heard & Seen” is an intellectual kind of ghost thriller, although he is ultimately more interested in the state of the living than in the dead. Catherine and George, first seen in their cheerful, busy lives in New York City, look like an intelligent, loving couple on the outside. But as is so often the case in such stories, there is unrest and dissatisfaction in their marriage, which becomes clear as soon as they move to the surrounding area for George’s new job. The film moves between ghost narrative and secrets and betrayal within a marriage.
Catherine struggles with eating disorders, along with her loneliness and suspicion that George is hiding things from her. Amanda Seyfried expresses both Catherine’s fragility and courage, Norton cleverly undermines George’s charm as the film becomes darker.