“I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” is a psychological horror film released in 2016, directed by Oz Perkins. The movie, known for its eerie atmosphere and slow-burning narrative, delves into themes of isolation, mortality, and the supernatural. In this article, we’ll explore the plot, characters, and the underlying themes that make this film a thought-provoking and unsettling cinematic experience.
The film follows the story of Lily Saylor, a young hospice nurse, who is hired to care for Iris Blum, an elderly and reclusive author. Lily takes up residence in Iris’s old, creaky mansion to provide round-the-clock care. As Lily settles into her new surroundings, she discovers that the house has a sinister history, including the mysterious disappearance of another young woman, Polly, who once lived there.
The plot unfolds through Lily’s increasingly unsettling experiences in the house. She begins to hear strange noises, sees ghostly apparitions, and becomes convinced that the house is haunted. Lily also becomes obsessed with Iris’s novel, “The Lady in the Walls,” which she believes is somehow connected to the strange occurrences in the house.
As Lily’s fear and paranoia grow, she becomes convinced that she, too, will be claimed by the malevolent spirit that inhabits the house. She slowly unravels as she delves deeper into the house’s dark past and her own connection to it.
Lily Saylor (Ruth Wilson): Lily is the film’s protagonist and the “pretty thing” living in the house. She is a young hospice nurse who takes her job seriously and agrees to care for Iris in her final days. Lily is portrayed as reserved, introspective, and sensitive, and she becomes increasingly isolated and paranoid as the film progresses. Her character embodies vulnerability and serves as the lens through which the audience experiences the story.
Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss): Iris is the elderly author for whom Lily provides care. She is a reclusive and enigmatic figure, confined to her bedroom, and rarely seen by Lily. Iris’s past, her novel “The Lady in the Walls,” and her connection to the house’s haunting history are central to the plot.
Polly (Lucy Boynton): Polly is the young woman who previously lived in the house and mysteriously disappeared. Her story is interwoven with the events unfolding in the film, and her presence is felt through diary entries and haunting manifestations.
“I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” is a horror film that delves into several thought-provoking themes:
Isolation: The film explores the psychological impact of isolation, both physical and emotional. Lily’s isolation within the old mansion and her growing sense of detachment contribute to her increasing paranoia and vulnerability.
Mortality and Death: The theme of mortality is central to the film, as Lily works in the field of hospice care, tending to a terminally ill patient. The presence of death, mortality, and the afterlife pervades the narrative, making the audience confront their own mortality.
Haunted Spaces: The film plays with the concept of haunted spaces, suggesting that certain locations can retain the energy, memories, and presence of those who have lived and died there. The house itself becomes a character, harboring the memories of its previous occupants.
Ghosts and Apparitions: The supernatural elements of the film revolve around the existence of ghosts and apparitions. These spectral figures are portrayed as ethereal and unsettling, serving as manifestations of unresolved trauma and grief.
The Power of Storytelling: Iris’s novel, “The Lady in the Walls,” underscores the power of storytelling and how narratives can transcend time and influence the living. The film blurs the lines between fiction and reality, suggesting that stories have the ability to shape our understanding of the world.
“I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House” is often categorized as a slow-burning horror film. This style of horror is characterized by a deliberate pacing that gradually builds tension and unease throughout the narrative. Instead of relying on jump scares and intense action, slow-burning horror relies on atmospheric dread, psychological unease, and a sense of impending doom.
The film takes its time to immerse the audience in the eerie and unsettling ambiance of the house. This deliberate pacing allows viewers to connect with the main character, Lily, as she slowly unravels in the face of the unexplained events occurring around her.
The slow-burning approach can be polarizing, as some viewers may find it too gradual or subdued. However, it’s a style of horror that aims to create a lingering sense of dread and unease rather than immediate fright.
The Uncertainty of the Supernatural
One of the intriguing aspects of the film is its portrayal of the supernatural. It leaves much to the audience’s interpretation and imagination. The film never fully explains the nature of the malevolent spirit in the house or the extent of its powers. It allows viewers to ponder the blurred boundaries between the living and the dead, reality and fiction, and the known and the unknown.
The film challenges viewers to question whether the supernatural occurrences are genuinely happening or if they are manifestations of Lily’s deteriorating mental state. This ambiguity enhances the sense of psychological horror and makes the film an engaging and thought-provoking experience.